Sea levels are rising faster in the Caribbean and Latin America than elsewhere

Sea levels are rising faster in the Caribbean and Latin America than elsewhere

It is WMO report The ‘Latin America and the Caribbean 2021 Climate Status’ was presented at a regional conference for South American countries organized by the UN agency in the city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

It highlights the impact of climate change and extreme weather events on ecosystems, food and water security, people’s health and the fight against poverty.

More deforestation

Last year saw the highest level of deforestation since 2009. This not only harms the environment but also undermines efforts to combat climate change.

Glaciers in the Andes mountains have lost more than 30 percent of their area in less than 50 years. Across the region, some are simply disappearing.

The ‘mega-drought’ plaguing central Chile has lasted so far this century. In the Paraná and Plata river basins, drought resulted in limited soybean and maize crops, affecting global agricultural markets.

In South America overall, drier conditions caused a decline in grain harvests. In 2020-2021, it was 2.6 percent lower compared to the previous season.

Heavy rainfall

Elsewhere, heavy rains have caused floods and landslides, killing hundreds, destroying or damaging tens of thousands of homes and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Two Brazilian states – Bahia and Minas Gerais – suffered an estimated $3.1 billion in material losses.

The warming trend in the region also continues: the average temperature increase between 1991 and 2021 is 0.2°C per decade, compared with 0.1°C per decade between 1961 and 1990.

“Sea-level rise and ocean warming are expected to continue to affect livelihoods, tourism, health, food, energy and water security in coastal areas, particularly small islands and Central American countries,” Taalas said.

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Sea level will rise

Global sea level continues to rise, particularly along the Atlantic coast south of the equator, the subtropical North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

“For many Andean cities, the melting of glaciers means the loss of an important source of fresh water for domestic use, irrigation and hydroelectric power generation,” Talas notes.

In South America as a whole, Talas adds, “the ongoing degradation of the Amazon rainforest is one of the major climate concerns for the region and globally, given the role this type of forest plays in the carbon cycle.”

Food insecurity

A total of 7.7 million people in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua faced severe food insecurity in 2021. This is partly due to factors such as the continued impact of cyclones Etta and Iota in late 2020 and the economic effects of the pandemic.

Mario Cimoli, responsible for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), emphasizes that the combined effects of climate change degradation and COVID-19 are not only affecting the region’s biodiversity.

“They have halted decades of progress against poverty, food insecurity and inequality in the region,” Simoli said.

In the entire region, there were no fewer than 175 disasters in the period 2020-2022, 88 percent of which were caused by weather, climate or hydrology. Mitigating the adverse effects of this situation requires sustained investments and innovative services Early warning systems Not yet effectively used in that area. This is the compelling conclusion of the WMO report.

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