2015-19: The Warmest Period on Record

Warmest Period on Record

In News

According to a report released at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 being held in New York, the period 2015-19 is the warmest period on record, and July 2019 was the hottest month on record.

In-Detail

  • The Science Advisory Group of the Summit prepared the report titled ‘United in Science’.
  • As per the report, countries like the United States, Southern America, Europe, Middle East, areas in Africa south of the Sahara, northern Eurasia and Australia have suffered the most during this five-year period.
  • In this period, greenhouse gas emissions have reached an all-time high and heat waves have become the deadliest climate hazards while largest economic losses were due to tropical cyclones.

Key Findings

  • The report noted that the global temperatures for the 2015-2019 period is 1.1 degrees more than pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels.
  • This has led to extreme heatwaves, droughts, floods and severe tropical cyclones. They have impacted the socio-economic development and environment.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions have reached a new high. As per the report, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has crossed the 400 parts per million (ppm) mark. Last time such levels of CO2 was noted 3 million years ago.
  • The report noted that, in 2018, CO2 levels in the atmosphere were at 407.8 ppm, 2.2 ppm more than in 2017.
  • As per preliminary observations, in 2019, CO2 concentrations are on track to reach 410 ppm in the atmosphere.
  • In 2017, the global average of CO2 in the atmosphere was 405.6 ppm, methane was at 1859 ppb, and nitrous oxide was at 329.9 ppb. The values were 146%, 257% and 122% higher than in pre-industrial times (pre-1750).
  • The report further notes that while emissions from the US and Europe have declined in the last decade, China’s emissions are starting to decline over the year 2000 levels of emissions.
  • India is growing its emissions at a strong rate of 5% per year while starting from a low per capita emissions. The country stands fourth in emissions across the world.
  • On heatwaves, the report notes that they have affected all the continents and had set many national records for maximum temperatures.
  • It says that the 2019 summer was unprecedented. For the first time, wildfires in the Arctic were intensified leading to 50 megatons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
  • Climate change impact has also been seen in the precipitation level in 2015-19. During the period, high precipitation was noted that previous years in southern South and North America, eastern Europe and most of Asia. But, less precipitation was noted in large areas of Europe, northern North America, South and South West regions of Africa, a large part of South America, Indian Monsoon Region, and Northern and Western Australia.
  • It was between 2015 and 2019 that low Arctic winter sea ice extent was noted. Four times it had occurred during this period.
  • The Arctic sea ice declined at a rate of 12% per decade from 1978-2018.
  • All these indicate a climate future that is going to be disastrous.

UN Climate Action Summit 2019

Climate change is a common concern of humanity. At the summit, world nations, international organisations, businesses and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) will discuss ways to reduce emissions that are leading to climate change and increase global action on adaptation and resilience.

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