State of the Global Climate for 2020


    In News

    World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual State of the Global Climate for 2020.

    Key Findings

    Image Courtesy:UN

    • 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, despite a cooling La Niña event.
      • The global average temperature in 2020 was about 1.2° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level.
      • The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record.
        •  2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.
    • Five key indicators of irreversible changes in the global climate
    • Greenhouse Gases: The emission of major greenhouse gases increased in 2019 and 2020.
      •  The level of greenhouse gas emission will be higher in 2021.
        • Globally averaged mole fractions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have already exceeded 410 parts per million (ppm), and if the CO2 concentration follows the same pattern as in previous years, it could reach or exceed 414 ppm in 2021
    • Oceans: In 2019, the oceans had the highest heat content on the record.
      • In 2020, it has broken this record further.
        • “Over 80 per cent of the ocean area experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2020.
        • The percentage of the ocean that experienced “strong” marine heatwaves (45 per cent) was greater than that which experienced “moderate” marine heatwaves (28 per cent).
    • Sea-level rise: Sea-level has been rising since record-taking started in 1993 using the satellite altimeter,
      • However, Sealevel recorded a drop due to the La Niña induced cooling in the summer of 2020.
    • “Sea level has recently been rising at a higher rate partly due to the increased melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
    • The Arctic and the Antarctica: In 2020, the Arctic sea-ice extent came down to second-lowest on record.
      • The 2020 Arctic sea-ice extent minimum after the summer melt was 3.74 million square kilometres, marking only the second time on record that it shrank to less than 4 million sq km,”
      • In a large region of the Siberian Arctic, temperatures in 2020 were more than 3°C above average, with a record temperature of 38°C in the town of Verkhoyansk.
      • “The Antarctic sea-ice extent remained close to the long-term average. However, the Antarctic ice sheet has exhibited a strong mass loss trend since the late 1990s.
        • This trend accelerated around 2005, and currently, Antarctica loses approximately 175 to 225 Gt per year, due to the increasing flow rates of major glaciers in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula.

    Issues /Concerns /Impacts

      • Climate change undermines sustainable development efforts, through a cascading chain of interrelated events that can worsen existing inequalities and the deteriorating cycle of climate change.
      • Extreme weather events were also recorded in several locations globally, with heavy rains and floods, severe and long-term droughts, disastrous storms, and widespread and prolonged wildfires, such as in the US and Australia.
      • Ocean acidification and deoxygenation continued, impacting ecosystems, marine life and fisheries, as well as reducing its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
      • Extreme weather combined with COVID-19 is a double blow for millions of people in 2020.


      • 2021, “must be the year for action”, calling for a number of “concrete advances”, before countries gather in Glasgow in November, for COP26.
        •  COP26-The 26th session of Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
      • Countries need to submit ambitious new nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that were designed by the Paris Agreement.
      • Their climate plans for the next 10 years must be much more efficient.
      • The trillions of dollars invested by mostly richer nations for domestic COVID-19 recovery, be aligned with the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and that subsidies directed to fossil fuels be shifted to renewable energy.
      • Developed countries must lead in phasing out coal – by 2030 in OECD countries, and 2040 elsewhere. No new coal power plants should be built.

    World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

    • It is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 193 Member States and Territories.
    • It was established by the ratification of the WMO Convention on 23 March 1950
      • It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), the roots of which were planted at the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress.
    • It is the specialised agency of the United Nations for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences a year later.
    • The Secretariat, headquartered in Geneva, is headed by the Secretary-General. Its supreme body is the World Meteorological Congress.
    • The State of the Global Climate-World Meteorological Organization issued the first state of the climate report in 1993.
      • The report was initiated due to the concerns raised at that time about projected climate change.

    Source: DTH