scorecardSea levels rose by one centimetre in past two years; last eight years might be the hottest ever: WMO
  1. Home
  2. sustainability
  3. news
  4. Sea levels rose by one centimetre in past two years; last eight years might be the hottest ever: WMO

Sea levels rose by one centimetre in past two years; last eight years might be the hottest ever: WMO

Sea levels rose by one centimetre in past two years; last eight years might be the hottest ever: WMO
SustainabilitySustainability3 min read
As the winter sets in, we must remember that mistaking this unassuming November chill as a silver lining can prove disastrous in our warming world. As such, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has released a report that recounts the horrifying pace at which the globe has begun warming in the past decade. With the world's premiere climate change summit COP 27 knocking at everyone's door, let's look at how we've fared so far.

According to the WMO's State of the Global Climate 2022 report, ever-rising greenhouse emissions have sling-shotted the global warming pace to excruciatingly dangerous levels. In fact, the past eight years are on track to be the hottest on record, with its widespread effects already fuelling catastrophic disasters that affected billions just this year alone.

Then there’s one of the most dramatic and irreversible effects of this climate aberration that the Earth is witnessing: sea-level rise. Breaking all records, ocean levels rose by nearly a centimetre in just the past two years, which accounts for about one-tenth of the total increase recorded in the past 30 years.

In fact, the pace of sea-level rising has doubled since 1993, which could have potential calamitous repercussions around coastal communities. In Mumbai and Kochi, this could affect 2,490 and 1,502 buildings, as per the predictions made by RMSI, a geospatial engineering company, using data from a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

The heaviest toll this warming places is on ice sheets and glaciers worldwide. The Greenland ice sheet — considered one of the largest sources of sea-level rise — lost considerable mass for the 26th year. For the first time, residents of Greenland witnessed rain instead of the usual snow in September — an obvious and tangible reminder of the effects of climate change.

"It's already too late for many glaciers, and the melting will continue for hundreds, if not thousands of years, with major implications for water security. The rate of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years," explains WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas.

"Although we still measure this in terms of millimetres per year, it adds up to half to one meter per century, and that is a long-term and major threat to many millions of coastal dwellers and low-lying states," he continues.

Lady luck: La Niña

The worst (or perhaps the best, depending on how you look at it) part is the fact that we lucked out. The La Niña, an oceanic phenomenon that dictates weather patterns worldwide, underwent a rare "triple-dip cooling" in 2022. This cold boost to temperatures let us clinch "only" the fifth or sixth warmest year on record.

Currently, the report assesses that we are between 1.02°C to 1.28°C (1.15°C on average) above the pre-industrial average — only about 0.35°C below the agreed 1.5°C Paris target.

"The greater the warming, the worse the impacts. We have such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now that the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach," laments Taalas.

From the River Thames drying up in Europe to scientists discovering a hidden river longer than the Thames connecting expanding melted lakes underneath the Antarctic ice sheet, climate change is presenting in a wide array of alarming ways around the world. As such, having early warning systems to mitigate disasters such as the 2022 Pakistan floods and the Horn of Africa droughts is crucial.

With half the world currently lacking such an important initiative, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced an Action Plan at COP27 to achieve Early Warnings for All in the next five years. With the WMO spearheading this endeavour, we can only be hopeful we can bear fruit while the trees still sport leaves.

Recommended stories: