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Warming weather and rising seas getting worse, UN meteorological report warns

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the latest report was a chronicle of climate chaos and a distress signal from the planet.

COP27 State of Climate

Earth’s warming weather and rising seas are getting worse and doing so faster than before, the World Meteorological Organisation warned as world leaders started gathering in Egypt for international climate negotiations at Cop27.

“The latest State of the Global Climate report is a chronicle of climate chaos,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “We must answer the planet’s distress signal with action – ambitious, credible climate action.”

In its annual state of the climate report, the United Nations’ weather agency said that sea level rise in the past decade was double what it was in the 1990s and since January 2020 has jumped at an even higher rate.

COP27 State of Climate
A man stands in shallow water near the dry riverbed of the Yangtze River in southwestern China’s Chongqing Municipality last August (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The past eight years have been the warmest on record, the WMO said.

“The melting (of ice) game we have lost and also the sea level rate,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said. “There are no positive indicators so far.”

The only reason the globe had not broken annual temperature records in the past few years was a rare three-year La Nina weather phenomenon, he said.

The data on sea level and average temperatures are nothing compared to how climate change has hit people in extreme weather.

Kenya Drought Dying Wildlife
Hundreds of animals died in Kenyan wildlife preserves during East Africa’s worst drought in decades(Brian Inganga/AP)

The report highlights the summer’s flood in Pakistan that killed more than 1,700 people and displaced 7.9 million, a crippling four-year drought in East Africa that has more than 18 million hungry, the Yangtze River drying to its lowest level in August, and record heat-waves broiling people in Europe and China.

Levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide all reached record high levels, with potent methane increasing at a record pace, the report said.

Ice, both Greenland’s ice sheet and the world’s glaciers, are shrinking precipitously, the report said. For the 26th year in a row, Greenland lost ice when all types of ice are included.

The volume of glacier snow in Switzerland dropped by more than one-third from 2001 to 2022, the report said.

But 90% of the heat trapped on Earth goes into the ocean and the upper part of the ocean is getting warmer faster. The rate of warming the last 15 years is 67% faster than since 1971, the report said.

That ocean heat “will continue to warm in the future – a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales,” the report said.

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