The reduction in human activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic will not reverse the situation.

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While the global containment measures put in place to contain the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, the abnormally high global temperatures recorded since January show that 2020 may well be the warmest year on record since weather records began.

RECORD TEMPERATURES

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there is a 75% chance that 2020 will become the warmest year on Earth since 1880, surpassing 2016. While El Niño, particularly strong in 2015-2016, contributed to these record temperatures four years ago, there is currently no indication that a similar phenomenon will occur this year, making NOAA‘s projections all the more worrisome.

Even if average temperatures in 2020 were ultimately lower than those recorded in 2016, NOAA says it has a 99.9 percent chance of being among the five warmest years on record. The projections were announced by Derek Arndt, climate monitoring manager at NOAA‘s National Environmental Information Centers, at a mid-April news conference call.

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NOAA made these estimates by analyzing monthly temperatures over the past 40 years and generated 10,000 potential results on how the global temperature pattern might change. Scientists established this 75 percent probability based on the abnormally high temperatures recorded globally in January, February, and March of this year.

January 2020 became the warmest ever recorded and the 44th consecutive January above the 20th-century average. During this period, Europe experienced a mean temperature anomaly of 3.1°C and a large region of the continent stretching from Norway to western Russia experienced monthly mean temperatures 6°C above normal values.

THE EFFECTS OF A DRASTIC REDUCTION IN GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS WOULD NOT BE VISIBLE FOR SEVERAL YEARS.

Widespread containment measures, which were put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19, have reduced greenhouse gas emissions in some of the most polluted regions of the world. European Space Agency satellites found that nitrogen dioxide levels over cities and industrial areas in Asia and Europe were lower than those recorded over the same period in 2019 (with reductions of up to 40 percent in some regions).

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Credit: Redcharlie / Unsplash

However, if the pandemic shows us that it is possible to reduce these types of emissions, scientific evidence indicates that if the whole world stopped emitting carbon dioxide now, the climate would continue to warm for years to come. The reason for this is the time lag between the release of greenhouse gases and the atmosphere’s response to warming, which could be decades or even centuries later.

Between 65 and 80 per cent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere dissolves in the oceans, a process that can take between a few decades and 200 years, leading to their acidification. While the remaining 20-35% of carbon dioxide resulting from human activities takes centuries or even thousands of years to decompose through other natural processes.

Therefore, while a drastic and immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would help to mitigate the severity of climate change in the future, it would have little impact on the situation we are facing today.

Source : The Weather Network

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