Climate change: "Fifty-fifty chances" of exceeding the 1.5C temperature limit

A new analysis shows that the likelihood of reaching a critical global warming threshold has increased significantly.

Climate change: "Fifty-fifty chances" of exceeding the 1.5C temperature limit

A new analysis shows that the likelihood of reaching a critical global warming threshold has increased significantly.

According to UK Met Office researchers, there is a 50-50 chance that the world will heat up by more than 1.5C in the next five year.

Although such a temporary rise is possible, researchers are concerned about the direction of temperature trends.

They believe it is almost certain that 2022-2026 will be the warmest year in history.

The Met Office is the UK’s national meteorological service.

Global temperatures have risen in response to rising levels of greenhouse gases over the past 30 years, as a result.

In 2015, the average global temperature rose 1C above preindustrial levels. These are usually considered to be the temperatures that were recorded in the middle 19th century.

This was also the year when political leaders signed the Paris climate accord, which committed the world and other nations to limiting the rise of global temperatures to well below 2C. It also required them to continue efforts keeping them under 1.5C.

At COP26, held in Glasgow last November (COP26), governments reiterated their commitment to "1.5C"

Global temperatures have been hovering around 1C for the past seven years. 2016 and 2020 are essentially tied for the most recent record.

Scientists believe that the world is experiencing significant changes due to the 1C warming. This includes the recent wildfires in North America and the extreme heatwaves currently affecting India and Pakistan.

The World Meteorological Organisation's (WMO) update, which was done by the UK Met Office shows that there are never been greater chances of temperatures temporarily exceeding 1.5C within the next five year.

According to the study, temperatures will rise between 2022-2026 by 1.1C and 1.5C more than they were pre-industrial levels.

According to the Met Office, there is a 48% chance of breaking the 1.5C threshold in any given year. This would be close to 50/50.

"The main thing that is changing is that carbon dioxide levels are slowly creeping up," stated Dr Leon Hermanson, Met Office lead author.

"I believe people are already very concerned about climate change. It is alarming, it is showing that the planet continues to heat up. We're closer to the Paris agreement's first threshold - we must continue doing all we can to reduce the use fossil fuels.

Researchers say that going above 1.5C for a year is not the same thing as sustained temperature rises where they don't drop below this level. It is likely that it will drop below 1.5C again if it is exceeded within the next five year. There is no room to be complacent.

Professor Petteri Taalas, WMO, stated that "for as long as humans continue to emit greenhouse gases the temperatures will continue rising."

He said that oceans will continue becoming warmer and more acidic. Sea ice and glaciers are likely to continue melting, sea levels will rise, and weather extremes will increase.

The study found that the Arctic will experience a higher degree of global warming in the next five year than the rest of the globe. These areas will experience three times the temperature change from the long-term average, according to the researchers.

Researchers also believe that one of these years will break the 2016-2020 record for the warmest year.

It will, most likely, in an El Nino-year.

It's a meteorological phenomenon that causes unusually warm waters in the eastern Pacific ocean to cause weather changes all around the globe.

"The year that we temporarily exceed 1.5 degrees will likely be an El Nino," Dr Hermanson, Met Office.

It's on top climate change, sort of like the wiggles above the trend, if that makes sense. The next record year will likely be an El Nino year like 2016.

You can find the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update here.

Follow Matt McGrath on Twitter @mattMcGrathBBBC

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