Half a degree less warming can avoid severe weather events

Just half a degree less global warming could save the world from devastating floods and landslides: Scientists urge United Nations to reconsider the targets set in the Paris Agreement

  • Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming levels to a 2°C increase worldwide
  • It also hopes to ‘pursue efforts’ to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C
  • But limiting global levels to 1.5°C is considered by many to be too ambitious
  • However, scientists believe this 0.5°C difference could have huge consequences
  • It could make ‘extreme precipitation events’ far more common, they warn
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Just half a degree increase in global warming levels could have devastating consequences for weather conditions around the globe.

Scientists believe reducing the global warming limit by 0.5°C (0.9°F) – from 2°C (3.6°F) to 1.5°C (2.7°F) – could stop ‘extreme precipitation events’ worldwide.

Extreme precipitation can trigger a number of devastating natural events, including overflowing rivers, floods with the potential to destroy entire cities, and landslides.

The research reaffirms the importance of the Paris Agreement, a treaty between 175 parties (174 countries and the European Union) that hopes to halt the steady march of global warming.  

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A mere half a degree of global warming could have dire consequences for weather conditions around the world. The research reaffirms the importance of the Paris Agreement, a treaty between 175 parties (174 countries and the European Union) that hopes to halt the steady march of global warming

The international agreement aims to stop temperatures from increasing more than 2°C (3.6°F) in the long term, with every effort being made to limit the increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

Limiting the worldwide increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F) would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change, according to new research from the Institute Of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy Of Sciences.

Extreme once-in-10-year or once-in-20-year precipitation events could increase in likeliness by some 20 to 40 per cent, if the world fails to meet the 1.5°C (2.7°F) target.

This would put countless lives at risk, scientists warn. 

The author of the study, Tianjun Zhou, is a professor at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences who specialises in statistical models. 

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WHAT IS THE PARIS AGREEMENT? 

The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions.

In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention for the US, the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, to withdraw from the agreement.  

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

3) Goverments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries

4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science

Source: European Commission 

‘As the climate warms, both the mean state and the variability of extreme precipitation are projected to increase, inducing more intense and dangerous extreme events,’ professor Zhou said. 

‘Limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F), compared to 2°C (3.6°F), would reduce areal and population exposures to once-in-10-year or once-in-20-year extreme precipitation events by approximately 20 to 40 percent.’ 

The researchers used an archive of comprehensive climate models and combined them with socio-economic projections to investigate future climate changes and the accompanying impacts.

Their research focused mainly on the global monsoon region, which covers a vast portion of the world and encompasses almost two-thirds of the world’s population. 


 Scientists have found that by reducing the global warming limit by 0.5°C – from 2°C to 1.5°C – we could stop ‘extreme precipitation events’ from ever occurring. Extreme precipitation can lead to overflowing rivers and flooding as torrents of water harness the potential to destroy entire cities

It spans north and south of the equator and is a region which is particularly susceptible to extreme precipitation than any other land mass on Earth.

The scientists found that by reducing the global warming limit by 0.5°C (0.9°F), a significant number of extreme precipitation events and their impacts could be avoided.

‘Realising the 1.5°C (2.7°F) low warming target proposed by the Paris Agreement could robustly benefit the populous global monsoon region, in terms of lower exposure to precipitation extremes,’ Zhou said, referring to the severe floods, landslides and debris flows that can result from excessive rain.

‘[Our results] are robust across climate models, different definitions of dangerous events, future greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, and population scenarios.’

The researchers will continue to study the physical processes of how 0.5°C (0.9°F) less warming affects dangerous precipitation extremes.

They’re also calling others to attention and action in regions that are the most sensitive to the 0.5°C (0.9°F) additional warming. 

‘Among the global land monsoon regions, the most affected sub-regions, the South African and South Asian monsoon regions, are already among the most vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change,’ Zhou said.

‘Our results call attention to more effective adaption activities in these sensitivity regions.’

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.  

WHAT ARE THE KEY GOALS OF THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT?

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

3) Goverments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries

4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science

Source: European Commission 

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