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Climate Crisis

This guide provides information, resources, and data on the climate crisis

What is the WMO?

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is the United Nations system's authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources. 

As weather, climate and the water cycle know no national boundaries, international cooperation at a global scale is essential for the development of meteorology and operational hydrology as well as to reap the benefits from their application. WMO provides the framework for such international cooperation for its 193 Member States and Territories.

WMO’s mandate relates to the areas of meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. WMO has a powerful role in contributing to the safety and welfare of humanity by fostering collaboration between its Members' National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and advancing the application of meteorology and hydrology in many societal and economic areas.

WMO regulates and facilitates free and unrestricted exchange of data and information, products, and services in real- or near-real time. This is critical for applications relating to the safety and security of society, social and economic welfare, and the protection of the environment. WMO standards and policies contribute to policy formulation in these areas at national and regional levels.

The Organization plays a leading role in international efforts to monitor and protect the climate and the environment. In collaboration with other UN agencies and NMHSs, WMO supports the implementation of UNFCCC and a number of environmental conventions and is instrumental in providing advice and assessments to governments on related matters. These activities contribute towards ensuring the sustainable development and well-being of nations.

WMO Update

On May 17, 2023, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nation's authoritative voice on weather, climate, and water, published their 2023 Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update. This update gave a dire forecast that within the next five years, as global temperatures are expected to surge due to greenhouse gases and the predicted El Niño event expected to hit by this summer, the the world will breach the critical global temperature threshold set out in the Paris Agreement.

There is a 66% likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year.  There is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period as a whole, will be the warmest on record.

“This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory,” he said. “This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared,” said Prof. Taalas.

Key Points:
  • The average global temperature in 2022 was about 1.15°C above the 1850-1900 average. The cooling influence of La Niña conditions over much of the past three years temporarily reined in the longer-term warming trend. But La Niña ended in March 2023 and an El Niño is forecast to develop in the coming months. Typically, El Niño increases global temperatures in the year after it develops – in this case this would be 2024.
  • The annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2023 and 2027 is predicted to be between 1.1°C and 1.8°C higher than the 1850-1900 average. This is used as a baseline because it was before the emission of greenhouse gases from human and industrial activities.
  • There is a 98% chance of at least one in the next five years beating the temperature record set in 2016, when there was an exceptionally strong El Niño.
  • The chance of the five-year mean for 2023-2027 being higher than the last five years is also 98%.
  • Arctic warming is disproportionately high. Compared to the 1991-2020 average, the temperature anomaly is predicted to be more than three times as large as the global mean anomaly when averaged over the next five northern hemisphere extended winters.
  • Predicted precipitation patterns for the May to September 2023-2027 average, compared to the 1991-2020 average, suggest increased rainfall in the Sahel, northern Europe, Alaska and northern Siberia, and reduced rainfall for this season over the Amazon and parts of Australia.

This new report was released ahead of the World Meteorological Congress (22 May to 2 June) which will discuss how to strengthen weather and climate services to support climate change adaptation. Priorities for discussion at Congress include the ongoing Early Warnings for All initiative to protect people from increasingly extreme weather and a new Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Infrastructure to inform climate mitigation.