WMO Report: 2017 One of Three Warmest, Most Costly
Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada Vigil
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The WMO Statement notes that 2017 was the most expensive year on record for severe weather and climate events, with Munich Re assessing total disaster losses at US$320 billion, the largest annual total on record.

The risk of heat-related illness or death has been increasing, with around 30% of the world’s population living in areas with potentially “deadly temperatures” at least 20 days a year.

According to a GESAMP report, fossil fuel burning and agriculture are increasing fixed nitrogen inputs to the oceans by approximately 50%, and even more in high emission regions.

23 March 2018: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has issued the ‘WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2017,’ which confirms that 2017 was one of the three warmest years on record and the warmest not influenced by El Niño. The report also examines long-term climate change indicators, such as increasing CO2 concentrations, sea level rise, shrinking sea ice, ocean heat and ocean acidification.

Published on 23 March 2018 on the occasion of World Meteorological Day, the statement notes that 2017 was the most expensive year on record for severe weather and climate events, with Munich Re assessing total disaster losses at US$320 billion, the largest annual total on record. The North Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest ever for the US, at US$265 billion, and set development gains back in Caribbean islands, such as Dominica, where the World Bank estimated total damages and losses at US$1.3 billion, or 224% of the country’s GDP.

In Dominica, the World Bank estimated total damages and losses from the North Atlantic hurricane season at US$1.3 billion, or 224% of the country’s GDP.

The publication concludes that 2017 global mean temperatures were approximately 1.1°C above preindustrial levels, with: the 2013-2017 average being the highest five-year average on record; the nine warmest years having occurred since 2005; and the five warmest taking place since 2010. In addition, global sea surface temperatures were the third warmest on record after 2015 and 2016, with above-average temperatures off the east coast of Australia leading to significant coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef. Maximum Arctic sea ice cover was the lowest on record, Antarctic sea ice extent was at or near record low levels throughout the year, and the melting of polar ice sheets has increased, mostly in Greenland and Antarctica.

The statement also includes information on how climate has affected migration patterns, food security, health and other sectors. For example, the risk of heat-related illness or death has been increasing, with around 30% of the world’s population living in areas with potentially “deadly temperatures” at least 20 days a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Floods in the Asia-Pacific region and drought in the Horn of Africa have also led to millions of internally displaced.

The Statement, the 25th of its kind, was compiled by the WMO with input from national meteorological services and UN partners, and its results will contribute to the international disaster risk reduction (DRR), sustainable development and climate change agendas. [WMO Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Statement Landing Page] [Publication: WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate 2017] [WMO Press Release on World Meteorological Day]

The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) has published a report titled, ‘The Magnitude and Impacts of Anthropogenic Atmospheric Nitrogen Inputs to the Ocean.’ The report estimates that fossil fuel burning and agriculture are increasing fixed nitrogen inputs to oceans by approximately 50%, and even more in high emission regions in Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. It explains that human-produced atmospheric fixed nitrogen can increase ocean productivity and, thus, ocean uptake of atmospheric CO2, albeit small amounts. It may also increase ocean emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) in some areas.

The report concludes that atmospheric inputs are likely to remain at current levels up to 2050, although ammonia emissions from agriculture may increase, while N2O emissions from fossil fuel combustion will decrease, which could lead to a decrease in rainfall acidity.

The report identifies areas for further research, and recommends further work in regions sensitive to changes in atmospheric nitrogen deposition, such as the Northwest Pacific and the Northern Indian Ocean.

GESAMP, established in 1969, advises the UN system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection. Its UN sponsors include WMO, International Maritime Organization (IMO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO-IOC), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and UN Development Programme (UNDP). [Publication: GESAMP Report on the Magnitude and Impacts of Anthropogenic Atmospheric Nitrogen Inputs to the Ocean] [GESAMP Website]


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