#ClimateCrisis: Last year saw record-high greenhouse gases and sea levels
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has some worrying news for us. According to a report by the agency, the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere touched new highs in 2021. The report doesn't stop there. Our planet's sea levels rose for the 10th straight year, reaching another record. The report is a clear warning about the impacts of climate change.
Why does this story matter?
- Governments around the world have been trying to curb climate change. If the report by NOAA is an indication, we have not done enough.
- The trend is worrying. If the best of human efforts can only result in new record highs of heat, greenhouse gases, and sea levels, what does it mean?
- It simply means that we have to do better and with urgency.
Concentration of CO2 the highest in a million years
According to NOAA's State of Climate report, the annual global average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stood at 414.7 parts per million (ppm), which is 2.3ppm higher than in 2020. Based on paleoclimatic records, this is the highest in the last million years. Methane saw the highest growth rate ever, while nitrous oxide had the third-highest increase.
Sea level has increased by 97mm since satellite measurements began
2021 was not a good year for oceans as well. Across the world, the sea level rose for the 10th year in a row. Compared to 2020, the sea level rose by 4.9mm. The report also stated that oceans have risen by 97mm or 3.8 inches above the average recorded in 1993, when satellite measurements began.
Annual global surface temperature was one of top 6 ever
Last year was one of the warmest ever, said the report. Ocean heat content recorded a new high, while the annual global surface temperature was the fifth or sixth highest, depending on the record referred. However, global sea surface temperature cooled due to the ongoing La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific. Still, nearly 57% of ocean surface experiences at least one marine heatwave.
2021 had more tropical storms than the 20-year average
The report mentioned a spike in tropical storms, which increase as the Earth warms. The year 2021 saw 97 named storms during the Northern and Southern hemisphere storm seasons compared to the 1991-2020 average of 87. The report also said that vegetation is responding to higher global mean temperatures. For instance, cherry trees in Kyoto, Japan bloomed prematurely, breaking a record set in 1409.
Climate change shows no sign of slowing: NOAA administartor
About the State of Climate report, Rick Spinrad, the administrator of NOAA said, "The data presented in this report are clear - we continue to see more compelling scientific evidence that climate change has global impacts and shows no sign of slowing."