The Northern Hemisphere is grappling with severe weather conditions, characterized by scorching heat waves and destructive floods. June witnessed the highest global average temperature on record, a trend that has continued into the early part of July, according to preliminary data.
Extreme weather events, occurring with increasing frequency due to climate change, have wide-ranging impacts on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy, and water supplies. These consequences underscore the urgent necessity to swiftly and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as stated by WMO Secretary-General Prof.Petteri Taalas.
Heat waves, one of the deadliest natural hazards, claim numerous lives annually. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that by 2050, nearly half of the European population may face a high or very high risk of heat stress during summers. Above-normal temperatures are forecasted for the Mediterranean region over the next two weeks, with weekly temperatures up to 5 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. This elevated risk contributes to heightened heat stress, forest fire hazards, and health concerns.
Additionally, North Africa experiences exceptionally high temperatures, with regions in Morocco issuing red alerts for extreme heat. The southern United States, including California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida, confront a widespread and hazardous heat wave, characterized by potentially record-breaking temperatures. The Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean’s warm waters exacerbate the humidity, intensifying the risks associated with high temperatures.
Meanwhile, heavy rains and flooding caused extensive damage and loss of life across various regions. Northeastern USA faces recurrent torrential rainfall, leading to flash floods and emergencies. China’s northwest witnesses deadly floods, prompting calls for enhanced public protection measures. In northern India, monsoonal rainfall triggers devastating floods, resulting in collapsed infrastructure and casualties. Japan, particularly Kyushu Island, encounters record-breaking rainfall, necessitating emergency warnings.
As the planet continues to warm, these extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent, intense, and severe, leading to heightened flooding risks. Developed countries such as Japan demonstrate preparedness and flood management measures, while low-income countries face significant challenges in implementing early warning systems and comprehensive flood management strategies. The WMO is committed to improving global resilience through enhanced flood management initiatives.
Efforts to combat climate change and strengthen adaptive capacities are crucial to addressing the impacts of extreme weather events, protecting lives, and safeguarding vulnerable communities and ecosystems. Early warnings and comprehensive flood management systems play a vital role in mitigating these challenges and building resilience in the face of a changing climate.