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Global Warming Turned 2022 into a “Chronicle of Climate Chaos” – SWI swissinfo.ch in English

This content was published on November 6, 2022 – 12:00

(Bloomberg) — A catastrophic acceleration in global warming unleashed “climate chaos” across the planet this year — a signal that the window to act is closing, the UN warned on Sunday. 

Global temperatures in 2022 are likely to end about 1.15C above the average in pre-industrial times, making it the fifth or sixth hottest year on record, according to the provisional State of the Global Climate Report 2022 produced by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization. High heat levels in 2022 were particularly worrying as they happened under the second consecutive year of La Niña conditions, which tend to help keep temperatures low. 

“The latest State of the Global Climate report is a chronicle of climate chaos,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement as thousands of diplomats and leaders descended on Egypt for the opening session of the UN’s annual climate summit, known as COP27. “Change is happening with catastrophic speed, devastating lives and livelihoods on every continent.”

Concentrations of man-made greenhouse gas emissions responsible for warming the planet will continue to rise in the atmosphere this year after reaching record highs in 2021, the report said. Climate change has led to disasters from floods to heat and storms, causing thousands of deaths, forcing tens of thousands of people to migrate and throwing millions into acute food insecurity. 

“People and communities everywhere must be protected from the immediate and ever-growing risks of the climate emergency,” Guterres said. “We must answer the planet’s distress signal with action — ambitious, credible climate action.”

The UN is calling for government leaders meeting in Egypt’s coastal resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to agree to set up universal early warning systems within five years to help protect the planet’s most vulnerable people from climate change-fueled extreme weather events. 

The WMO’s provisional report revealed that the melting of ice over land and seas around the world continued to accelerate in 2022, with the area covered by sea ice in Antarctica reaching a record low in February this year, almost 1 million square kilometers (247 million acres) below the long-term mean. The Arctic, by contrast, saw a moderate summer for sea-ice melt.

In Switzerland, the total volume of glacier ice fell 6% this year following low snowfall in winter, dust coatings from Sahara sand storms and an exceptionally warm European summer. The country’s volume of glacier ice has fallen more than a third since 2001.

The melting has led to sea levels reaching record highs this year, with an increase of 10 millimeters (0.4 inches) in the past two years alone. While that may not sound significant, it represents approximately 10% of the sea level rise recorded since satellite measurements began in 1993, indicating that process is accelerating, the WMO report said. 

Drought in East Africa also continued this year, with below-average rainfall for the fourth consecutive wet season, making it the longest dry streak in four decades. The effects of the drought combined with other shocks mean 18.4 million to 19.3 million people are facing acute food insecurity and more than 1.1 million people have been internally displaced in Somalia. Over 3.5 million refugees in the region have been affected by major cuts in food assistance due to funding shortfalls and the global increase in food prices. 

Other parts of the planet have seen devastating rainfall. Record-breaking rain in July and August in Pakistan was made worse by climate change. The weeks-long event flooded a third of the country, caused at least 1,700 deaths, displaced about 7.9 million people and led to about $30 billion in losses and damages. 

Most of the northern hemisphere registered record heat levels, with China suffering through the most extensive and long-lasting heatwave since national records began, as well as the second-driest summer on record. In Europe, the heat wave led to thousands of people dead, with the first official figures estimating 2,800 deaths in the UK, 4,500 in Germany among those over 65 years old, and 11,000 in France. 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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