Home North pole ice 8 climate change records the world broke in 2021

8 climate change records the world broke in 2021

0
  • A new report from the World Meteorological Organization details how climate change broke new records in 2021.
  • There have been record heat waves, droughts and hurricanes.
  • Global sea levels hit a new record high and rain was recorded for the first time at the highest point in Greenland.
  • Ending the use of fossil fuels and eliminating carbon dioxide are among the actions needed to urgently tackle climate change, according to the United Nations.

Climate change is breaking worrying records around the world, confirms a new report.

State of the Global Climate 2021, from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), details a series of extreme weather events over the past year and warns that there is now a “critical” need for early warning systems to help sectors to adapt to climate change.

Global warming has been breaking records for some time, of course. In 2020, NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2010 to 2019 was the warmest decade since records began in the late 1800s.

Carbon emissions from fossil fuels reached a new record in 2019. And in 2021, a new temperature record – of 18.3°C – was set in Antarctica, the UN has announced.

Here are eight climate change records the world broke in 2021, according to the WMO.

The hottest years on record

The past seven years, between 2015 and 2021, have been the hottest years on record, the WMO has warned. Last year alone was between the fifth and seventh warmest year on record globally. The global average temperature in 2021 was around 1.11°C above average global temperatures between 1850 and 1900 – known as the “pre-industrial average”.

sea ​​level record

Sea level also reached a new record high in 2021. Globally, sea level rose by an average of 4.5 mm per year between 2013 and 2021. In several regions, sea level is growing “significantly faster” than the global average, according to the WMO. These include the South West Pacific, the South West Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic.

The hole in the Antarctic ozone layer is growing “abnormally”

The ozone hole over Antarctica in 2021 was “larger and deeper” than 70% of ozone holes measured since 1979, according to the WMO. It expanded to its widest area of ​​the year – 24.8 million km² – in October. The WMO says it was dragged by colder than average conditions in 2021 into the stratosphere – the second layer of Earth’s atmosphere from ground level. A powerful polar vortex – the band of cold air around Earth’s North Pole – was another key contributing factor.

First rain at the highest point in Greenland

Rainfall was recorded for the first time at the highest point of the Greenland Ice Sheet. This is Summit Station, a research station located more than 3,200 meters above sea level.

Several hours of rain were observed at Summit Station on August 14, 2021. Air temperatures also remained above freezing for about nine hours. It was part of an “exceptional” melting event in mid-August for Greenland, linked to a mass of warm, moist air, according to the WMO.

record heat waves

In western North America and the Mediterranean, “exceptional heat waves” were breaking records, notes the state of the world’s climate 2021. Death Valley in California recorded the highest temperature in the world since at least the 1930s, when the temperature reached 54.4C on July 9, 2021. Italy set a new provisional European record on August 11 when a research station near Syracuse in Sicily recorded a temperature of 48.8°C. Kairouan in Tunisia hit a record high of 50.3C. Spain and Turkey also broke new national records, with a temperature of 47.4°C recorded in Montoro in southern Spain and 49.1°C in Cizre near the border between Turkey and Turkey. Syria.

Hurricane Ida reaches record wind speeds

When Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in the United States on August 29 last year, its winds of 240 km/h were the strongest landfall on record for the state, according to the WMO. Ida was the strongest hurricane of the North Atlantic season, causing extensive wind damage and storm surge flooding. The hurricane caused approximately $75 billion in economic losses in the United States and is responsible for 115 deaths in the United States and Venezuela. There were 21 named storms in 2021, well above the average of 14 per year between 1981 and 2010, the WMO notes.

Record flooding in Western Europe

In mid-July 2021 Western Europe experienced some of the worst flooding on record. West Germany and eastern Belgium were the hardest hit. Hagen in western Germany reported 241mm of rainfall in 22 hours. Rivers overflowed, several cities were flooded and there were also landslides. Germany reported 183 deaths and Belgium 36. The floods are estimated to have cost Germany $20 billion in economic losses. France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland also experienced heavy flooding.

Lowest water level for US reservoir

The drought has resulted in a new low water level for Lake Mead, a reservoir on the Colorado River in the southwestern United States. In July, the reservoir fell 47m below full capacity, its lowest level on record. The drought has also affected other parts of the world, including Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan. In Canada, a severe drought meant forecast harvest levels for wheat and canola – a crop used to create cooking oil and animal feed – were 35% to 40% below 2020 levels.

Climate change is an urgent threat requiring decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing heightened climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats high on the list.

To limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policymakers and civil society advance short-term and long-term global climate actions in accordance with the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.


The World Economic Forum Climate Initiative supports scaling and accelerating global climate action through public and private sector collaboration. The Initiative is working on several work streams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions for the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policymakers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of a more secure climate.

Contact us to get involved.


What action is needed?

In its latest report on the actions needed to mitigate climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, a large-scale transition to renewable energy and to investments in the elimination of carbon dioxide.

These and other actions are outlined in the IPCC’s Climate Change Mitigation Report, which found that between 2010 and 2019, global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest ever levels. history of mankind.

The UN says affordable and scalable solutions are now available to help countries “move to cleaner and more resilient economies”.