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WMO releases tell-tale signs of extreme weather conditions around the world

A World Meteorological Organization statement said events of 2022 once again underlined the clear need to do much more to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Cars drive north on I-15 after an overnight storm in Lehi, Utah on December 13, 2022. (AFP)

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From extreme floods to heat and drought, weather and climate-related disasters have affected millions and cost billions this year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said earlier this week, describing the "tell-tale signs and impacts" of intensified climate change.

"Weather, water and climate-related disasters, including extreme flooding, heat and drought affected millions of people and cost billions this year, as the tell-tale signs and impacts of human-induced climate change intensified," the WMO said in a statement on Friday.

The events of 2022 once again underlined the clear need to do much more to cut greenhouse gas emissions - with better monitoring of this - and to strengthen climate change adaptation - including through universal access to early warnings, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

The WMO said that the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record. Global temperature figures for 2022 will be released in mid-January.

The persistence of a cooling La Nina event, now in its third year, means that 2022 will not be the warmest year on record. But this cooling impact will be short-lived and will not reverse the long-term warming trend caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

According to WMO, the annual global temperature forecast by the UK's Met Office suggests that the average global temperature for 2023 will be between 1.08 °C and 1.32°C (with a central estimate of 1.20 °C) above the average for the pre-industrial period (1850-1900).

This will be the tenth year in succession that temperatures have reached at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels. The likelihood of - temporarily - breaching the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement is increasing with time.

"This year we have faced several dramatic weather disasters which claimed far too many lives and livelihoods and undermined health, food, energy and water security and infrastructure. One third of Pakistan was flooded, with major economic losses and human casualties. Record breaking heatwaves have been observed in China, Europe, North and South America. The long-lasting drought in the Horn of Africa threatens a humanitarian catastophe," said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

"There is a need to enhance preparedness for such extreme events and to ensure that we meet the UN target of Early Warnings for All in the next five years," said Prof. Taalas.

Early warnings, increasing investment in the basic global observing system and building resilience to extreme weather and climate will be among WMO priorities in 2023 - the year in which the WMO community celebrates its 150th anniversary.

Also read: Rain will replace snow in the Arctic as the world heats up

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