2015 near zero – now 50 percent risk

WMO report: global warming over 1.5 degrees possible in five years

With a risk of 50 percent probability, global warming will match the report “Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius may already be exceeded in 5 years – at least temporarily. In 2015, this probability was still close to zero.

Forest dieback tinsel on spruces in Upper Bavaria – Photo © Gerhard Hofmann, agency future, for Solarify

The WMO summary

The Global Annual to Decade-by-Decade Climate Update is issued each year by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It provides a summary of global annual to ten-year forecasts prepared by WMO-designated global production centers and other centers for the period 2022-2026. The latest predictions suggest:

  • The annual mean global surface temperature will be between 1.1°C and 1.7°C higher than pre-industrial levels (the 1850-1900 average) for each year between 2022 and 2026.
  • The probability that the global surface temperature will be 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in at least one year between 2022 and 2026 is about the same as the probability that it will not increase (48%). The probability that the five-year mean exceeds this threshold is low (10%).
  • There is a 93% chance that at least one year between 2022 and 2026 will exceed the warmest year on record, 2016. The probability that the five-year mean for 2022-2026 is higher than that of the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93%.
  • There is no El Niño Southern Oscillation signal for December-February 2022/23, but the Southern Oscillation Index is predicted to be positive for 2022.
  • The Arctic temperature anomaly, compared to the 1991-2020 average, will be more than three times the size of the global mean anomaly when averaged over the next five prolonged Northern Hemisphere winters.
  • Precipitation patterns predicted for 2022 indicate an increasing likelihood of drier conditions in southwestern Europe and southwestern North America, and wetter conditions in northern Europe, the Sahel, northeastern Brazil and Australia, compared to the 1991-2020 average.
  • Predicted precipitation patterns for the May-September 2022-2026 period indicate an increased likelihood of wetter conditions in the Sahel, northern Europe, Alaska and northern Siberia and drier conditions over the Amazon compared to the 1991-2020 average.
  • Predicted precipitation patterns for the November-March 2022/23-2026/27 average compared to the 1991-2020 average indicate an increase in precipitation in the tropics and a decrease in precipitation in the subtropics, consistent with climate warming matches expected patterns.

In the Paris climate agreement COP21 (see:, the global community committed itself to reducing global warming to below two degrees (“well below 2 degrees”) compared to the pre-industrial age – if possible only 1, 5 degrees – to limit. According to the report, the probability of the threshold being temporarily exceeded between 2017 and 2021 was still ten percent. According to the WMO, it is already 50 percent for the period from 2022 to 2026 – which means that the probability of the limit being exceeded is just as great as that it will not happen.

WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas called the estimates “very reliable”. The world is getting closer and closer to the limit agreed in Paris. From 1.5 degrees, the effects of climate change would be “increasingly harmful” for people and the entire planet. As long as humans continue to emit greenhouse gases, “sea levels will continue to rise and weather conditions will become more extreme.”

However, meteorologists believe that at least one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will almost certainly be the warmest year on record. So far, 2016 holds this record. It is also almost certain that the global temperature rise will continue. In 2021, the global average temperature was 1.11 degrees above the pre-industrial reference temperature.