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Exceeding 1.5 degrees C 27 May 2021

Temporary exceedance of 1.5°C increasingly likely (via Met Office)

Author: Grahame Madge

There is more than a 40% chance that the annual average global temperature in at least one of the next five years will temporarily reach 1.5°C above pre–industrial levels.

And these odds are increasing with time, says a new climate update published today, led by the UK Met Office and issued by the World Meteorological Organization. The Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update spans 2021–2025. 

Professor Adam Scaife is the head of seasonal to decadal prediction at the Met Office. Commenting on the update, he said: “Assessing the increase in global temperature in the context of climate change refers to the long–term global average temperature, not to the averages for individual years or months. Nevertheless, a temporary exceedance of the 1.5 degree level may already be seen in the next few years.”

The Paris Agreement seeks to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2.0°C degrees Celsius above pre–industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C. The update also identifies the 90% likelihood of at least one year in the five–year period becoming the warmest on record, dislodging 2016 from the top ranking.

Other highlights from the update include the likelihood of high–latitude regions and the Sahel – the region of Africa immediately south of the Sahara desert – becoming wetter. And there is an increased chance of more tropical cyclones in the Atlantic compared to the recent past (defined as the 1981–2010 average). The Met Office’s Dr Leon Hermanson said: “These predictions provide a basis to alert governments and aid agencies to regional climate risks.” 

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