Causes of Climate Change - part two
- Published: Tuesday, 10 September 2019 17:42
Michiel Haas – the Netherlands
Already visible effects of climate change
New heat records every year since the start of the 21st century
Ominous heat records are broken year after year. The fight against climate change has been accelerating since the Paris agreements, but is still seriously inadequate. With the current international climate plans, we are moving towards a global warming of 3.2 °C. Such temperature rise has major consequences for people and the environment.
The 21st century now accounts for 18 of the 19 hottest years of the measurement series since 1880 worldwide. The 2018 World Meteorological Organisation (1) (WMO) report confirms that 2018 was the hottest year ever - a striking 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period and 0.07 degrees Celsius above the previous record of 2017. 2019 is likely to surpass the heat of 2018.
The temperature of the sea surface is also the warmest ever in the measurements. The sea level continued to rise, and the surface of the polar caps was far below average for most of the year. Said report speaks of an unprecedented
global heat wave, an exceptionally small area of sea ice on both poles and a rapid rise in sea level. These are largely the result of climate change but were given an extra boost by the weather phenomenon El Niño.
El Niño, Spanish for 'the child', is a weather phenomenon that heats up the waters of the Pacific Ocean every three to seven years, with serious consequences for the weather in large parts of the world. El Niño is often accompanied by violent storms in South America and droughts in Asia and southern Africa. El Niño is not a climate change phenomenon, but due to rising temperatures, the El Niños of the last decades are heavier. The last El Niño that lasted from 2014-2016 caused the tropical forests to emit an additional 3 billion tonnes of CO2 (due to drought, forest fires and less growth of forests). That is almost one fifth of the emissions from fossil fuels and cement production in the same period. And this does have a major impact on climate change.
Warming and heat waves
The last five years (2014-2015-2016-2017-2018) were always the hottest years since the start of our measurements. The graph below also clearly shows that it is getting warmer. In the Netherlands, it has already become 1.7 degrees Celsius warmer since the pre-industrial era. In our climate, it still feels pleasant. However, we have to deal with more and more heat waves with temperatures above 30 degrees and even heat waves above 40 degrees Celsius; which is less pleasant. A heat wave is described by the KNMI as a sequence of at least 5 summer days in De Bilt (maximum temperature 25.0 °C or higher), of which at least three are tropical (maximum temperature 30.0 °C or higher). Since 1901, 27 heat waves have been registered in De Bilt, of which more than half since 1990, namely 16 heat waves. And 11 in this century alone. The pace of the heat waves is increasing. This applies to the Dutch situation. But the temperature is also rising in other places in the world.