2023 WMO Air Quality and Climate Bulletin

September 9, 2023.


A report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) highlights the link between climate change, heatwaves, wildfires, and rising air pollution, including ozone. WMO emphasizes the interconnectedness of climate change and air quality, calling for integrated solutions to address both challenges. Here are the key findings of the report:


  • The report states that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, which, in turn, raise the risk and severity of wildfires.
  • The smoke from these wildfires contains pollutants that negatively impact air quality, health, ecosystems, and crops.
  • Heatwaves exacerbate air quality issues, leading to the production of ozone and particulate matter.
  • The combination of high temperatures and aerosol levels affected human health and agriculture globally, with significant crop losses reported in India and China.

Record Breaking Heatwaves in Europe

The report cites examples from the European summer of 2022, which experienced record-breaking heatwaves resulting in increased concentrations of ozone and particulate matter. It noted that hundreds of air quality monitoring sites exceeded the World Health Organization’s ozone air quality guideline level. This began in the southwest of Europe and later spread to central and northeast Europe due to the heatwave’s movement across the continent.

Additionally, there was an unusually high intrusion of desert dust over the Mediterranean and Europe, further impacting air quality. These conditions affected human health and agriculture, with significant crop losses, particularly in India and China.

Significance of the Report’s Emphasis on the Interconnectedness of Climate Change and Air Quality

The report underscores the importance of recognizing the close relationship between climate change and air quality. It highlights that climate change-driven phenomena like heatwaves and wildfires directly contribute to air pollution, including ozone and particulate matter. Understanding this interconnectedness is crucial because it emphasizes that addressing climate change and improving air quality must go hand-in-hand.

Effective solutions should tackle both challenges simultaneously to break the vicious cycle, benefiting human health, ecosystems, agriculture, and overall well-being. The report’s emphasis on this interconnected approach highlights the need for integrated policies and actions to address these complex environmental issues.

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