Recent climate change findings

Strong winds generated by typhoon Lan in Tokyo on Oct 23 disrupted transportation in the Japanese capital.
Strong winds generated by typhoon Lan in Tokyo on Oct 23 disrupted transportation in the Japanese capital.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

1.1 DEG C

The Earth's average surface temperature last year was a record 1.1 deg C above the pre-industrial era. Sixteen of the hottest years on record have occurred since the start of the 21st century.

403.3 PPM

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached an average of 403.3 parts per million (ppm) last year, the highest level in at least 800,000 years. Last month, CO2 - comprising three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions - hit nearly 407 ppm. Prior to industrialisation, the global average hovered at about 280 ppm.


Arctic summer sea ice this year shrank to 4.64 million sq km. Arctic sea ice cover is declining at a rate of 13.2 per cent per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. The Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer as early as 2030.


The number of climate-related extreme events - droughts, forest fires, floods, major storm surges - has doubled since 1990. This year saw the first severe tropical storm known to sustain winds of 295km per hour for more than 33 hours (Irma); and a hurricane that dropped a record 125cm of water on land (Harvey). The intensity of typhoons battering China, Taiwan, Japan and the Korean Peninsula since 1980 has risen by 12 to 15 per cent.


Sea level is rising by 3.4mm per year. Since 1993, the global ocean watermark has gone up by 84.8mm. The pace is likely to pick up, threatening millions of people in low-lying areas around the world.


Of the 8,688 species of animals and plants listed as "threatened", 1,688 species (19 per cent) have been negatively affected by climate change. Scientists say the Earth has entered a "mass extinction event", only the sixth in the last half-billion years.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2017, with the headline 'Recent climate change findings'. Subscribe