Extreme Weather and Climate Crisis – 11-09-2023


    Syllabus: GS1/ Important Geophysical phenomena
    In News

    • The recent extreme weather events leave little to no doubt that the climate crisis is here.

    • There were extreme weather events in the recent like
      – Raging wildfires across Europe and Canada.
      – Devastating floods, cloudbursts, and storms in China, India and Brazil.
      – Sweltering heat waves in numerous countries.
    • Numerous climate records on temperature, ocean heat, and Antarctic sea ice cover are getting smashed week after week.
    • According to the scientific evidence, we will continue to see more climate records and more intense and frequent extreme weather events impacting society and ecosystems, until we stop emitting greenhouse gases.
    Climate records of 2023Why does it matter?
    Hottest summer ever– According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) & European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), this year’s summer was the hottest on record.

    – August 2023 was the warmest August on record and the second hottest ever month after July 2023, according to the data presented by C3S and WMO.

    – In July 2023, the global average daily temperature crossed the mark of 17 degree Celsius for the first time.
    – The development highlights the possibility that the planet may soon become 1.5 degree Celsius warmer than it was during the pre-industrial times.

    – Once the limit is breached, there could be irrevocable damage to the Earth’s ecosystem, severely impacting humans and other living beings.
    Highest sea surface temperature– As noted by C3S, each day from July 31 to August 31, 2023, has witnessed warmer global average sea surface temperature than the previous record from March 2016.

    – Therefore, August as a whole saw the highest global monthly average sea surface temperature on record across all months, at 20.98 degree Celsius — it is well above average for August, with an anomaly of 0.55 degree Celsius.
    – The oceans have absorbed 90% of the additional heat caused by human activity since the second half of the 19th Century.

    – Higher ocean temperatures often cause marine heat waves (MHWs), which are extreme weather events.
    Lowest Antarctic sea ice extent– The Antarctic sea ice extent hit a new record low in 2023. In July, the sea ice extent averaged 13.5 million sq km, the lowest levels observed for this time of year since the continuous satellite record began in late 1978, a NASA Earth Observatory report said.

    – The worst affected regions were the northern Ross Sea and in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean sectors.
    – The extreme decline in Antarctica’s sea ice sheet has set alarm bells ringing for scientists.

    – Less ice cover may have grave consequences for the world.

    – Low sea ice extent leads to higher ocean temperatures, difficulty in the formation of ice, rising sea levels, and disruption of the ocean circulation.


    • Need of greater investments: These weather vagaries have underlined the need for greater investments in building people’s resilience —interventions to risk-proof agriculture, build food security, develop flood and cyclone warning systems and strengthen the defences of coasts and other vulnerable areas.
    • Need of reviewing Paris targets: Many experts now argue that the cumulative ambition expressed through the Paris Pact’s voluntary targets —the Nationally Determined Contributions —was insufficient to keep the temperature rise below the tolerance threshold.
    • CoP 28: The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly referred to as COP28, will be the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference, held from November 30th until December 12th, 2023 at the Expo City, Dubai.
      – COP28 UAE will be a milestone moment when the world will take stock of its progress on the Paris Agreement.
      – This will help align efforts on climate action, including measures that need to be put in place to bridge the gaps in progress.

      Way Ahead
    • Adaptation challenges: India’s large population experiences adaptation challenges due to severe heat waves in the summer and extreme rainfall during the monsoon season.
      Heatwaves cause mortality and pose challenges for public health infrastructure.
      Prolonged extreme rainfall results in floods, which damage agriculture and infrastructure and cause human migration and loss of lives.
    • Need for robust climate finances: Slow onsets can still be taken care of through adaptation and resilience ideas but these kinds of big events are very difficult to cope with.
      – That is where the main issue lies as the country would then have to divert development money to climate finance to combat climate change.

      Source: IE