IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


22nd March, 2024 Environment


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Picture Courtesy: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-climate/wmo-state-of-climate-report-9223032/

Context: The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has released its annual State of the Climate report.

Key Highlights of the Latest Report

  • Rising Levels of Greenhouse Gases: Greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere are still rising at levels that were never before seen. Methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide all trap heat, which leads to global warming. 
  • Increasing Temperatures on the Surface: In 2023, the average near-surface global temperature reached a record 1.45 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. Although the concentration of greenhouse gases is the main cause, last year's El Niño phenomena also played a role in the temperature increase.
  • Warming oceans: Since 1971, the world's oceans have absorbed a major portion of the extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases. This has resulted in continuous warming, with 2023 recording the highest ocean heat content (OHC) in 65 years of record-keeping.
  • Increased Marine Heatwaves: In 2023, the average daily marine heatwave (MHWs) coverage reached 32%, far above the previous record of 23% achieved in 2016. MHWs occur when surface water temperatures in specific ocean locations exceed the average by 3-4 degrees Celsius for at least five consecutive days. These warm zones can disrupt marine life, harm coral reefs, and promote algae blooms.
  • Shrinking Antarctic Sea Ice: Antarctic sea ice coverage recorded a new low of 1.79 million square kilometres in February 2023. This drop continued throughout the year, with record lows lasting from June to early November. Shrinking sea ice has many negative consequences, including intensifying global warming, disrupting ocean circulation patterns, and affecting polar animals.
  • Glacier Retreat: During 2022-2023, the world's baseline glaciers had the greatest ice loss ever recorded. Glaciers in North America and Europe were especially affected. Retreating glaciers adds to increasing sea levels, endangering coastal towns and ecosystems.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • The WMO traces its origins back to the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), established in 1873. The IMO served as a platform for the exchange of weather data and research.
  • The WMO officially came into being through the World Meteorological Convention of 1947. This transformed the IMO into an intergovernmental organisation under the United Nations system.
  • The WMO was formally established in 1950. It operates as a specialised agency of the United Nations, focusing on meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and related geophysical sciences.
  • Currently, the WMO has 193 member states and territories. This broad membership underscores its global reach and importance in international cooperation on weather and climate issues.
  • The primary goals of the WMO include promoting international cooperation on weather, climate, water, and related geophysical sciences. It also works on environmental protection, climate change mitigation, resource management, and socioeconomic development.
  • The WMO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. From this central location, it coordinates global efforts in meteorology and related fields.
  • The WMO is governed by the World Meteorological Congress, composed of representatives from member states. This congress meets every four years to set policies and priorities for the organisation.
  • The WMO plays a vital role in assessing and communicating the state of the global climate. It publishes annual reports that provide insights into climate trends, extreme weather events, and other relevant information.


Q. People are already being forced to relocate due to resource scarcity, extreme weather and rising sea levels. How can large-scale climate migration be managed fairly and humanely, and how can vulnerable communities become more resilient?