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Europe had coldest spring since 2013, says world weather body

World Meteorological Organization says 90% chance one of next 5 years to be warmest on record

Peter Kenny   | 08.06.2021
Europe had coldest spring since 2013, says world weather body FILE PHOTO

GENEVA

Europe experienced its coldest spring for years in 2021, but temperatures were well above average in other parts of the world, especially in northern Africa, the Middle East, northern and western Russia, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Tuesday.

"Europe had its coldest spring since 2013; the average March-May temperature was 0.45 C below the 1991-2020 average," said Clare Nullis, the spokeswoman for the WMO, at a UN press briefing on World Oceans Day.

"Just because this year has got off to a relatively cool start by recent standards does not mean that we've hit the pause button on climate change."

The WMO says there is a 90% chance that one of the next five years will be the warmest on record.

Nullis cited data from the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service that Europe's cold May contrasted with the global average temperature for the month, which was 0.26 C higher than the mean in 1991-2020.

Temperatures were well above average over western Greenland, North Africa, the Middle East, and northern and western Russia.

Still, below-average May temperatures were reported over the southern and central US, parts of northern Canada, south-central Africa, India, eastern Russia, and eastern Antarctica.

CO2 still key climate change driver

The WMO spokeswoman explained how carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are still a key driver of climate change.

"Yesterday, we saw the release of very worrying figures from Mauna Loa (in Hawaii), the world's oldest benchmark atmospheric monitoring and monitoring station, which has the longest track record of monitoring greenhouse gases," said Nullis.

"The monthly average CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa observatory reached a new record 419.13 parts per million (ppm) in May, up from 417.31 ppm in May 2020," she said, citing the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The WMO official noting World Oceans Day said the rate of ocean warming over the past decade has increased.

"These CO2 figures which I mentioned are going to have a very real and very serious impact on the ocean, and this is because the ocean absorbs more than 23% of CO2 emissions."

According to the WMO, ocean acidification and marine heatwaves have already weakened coral reefs that shield coastlines and are vital marine ecosystems.

The ocean also absorbs more than 90% of the excess heat from human activities, with 2019 seeing the highest ocean heat content on record, and this trend likely continued in 2020, said the WMO.

In the last 30 years, between 25% and 50% of the world's live coral have been lost, "and it is predicted that by mid-century we could lose functional coral reef ecosystems around most of the world," according to a UNEP/FAO (UN Environment Program/Food and Agriculture Organization) report issued for World Environment Day on June 5.

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