This year will “very likely” be the hottest on record, according to the latest projections from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), making 2016 the third year in a row where global temperatures climbed to new highs.
The United Nations weather agency’s Provisional Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2016 said a powerful El Niño trend is largely to blame for scorching temperatures around the world in the first half of the year. But the report pointed to human-linked causes, such as record levels of greenhouse gasses, as the number one factor pushing temperatures higher.
“Another year. Another record,” WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas, said in the report. “The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.”The report also highlights low levels of Arctic sea ice, especially during early 2016 and the October re-freezing period, as well as significant early melting of the Greenland ice sheet.
This latest estimate of record-shattering heat comes as world leaders gather in Morocco for the annual UN talks on limiting the impact of climate change.
Preliminary data shows 2016’s global temperatures are approximately 1.2 C above pre-industrial levels — perilously close to the 1.5 C target outlined in the Paris climate agreement last December.
The Morocco talks are the first major environmental summit since Donald Trump’s win in the U.S. presidential election – which has added a new level of uncertainty to the global response to climate change.
Trump has vowed to walk away from all U.S. climate commitments, and threatened to dismantle the country’s Environmental Protection Agency during his campaign.
The WMO warns that heat waves, storm surges, and extreme weather events will rise in lockstep with temperatures. The organization has linked human-induced global warming to at least half of the extreme weather events it has studied in recent years.
“Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen. ‘Once in a generation’ heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular. Sea level rise has increased exposure to storm surges associated with tropical cyclones,” said Taalas.
Hurricane Matthew was the deadliest extreme weather event so far this year. The storm was Haiti’s worst humanitarian emergency since the 2010 earthquake. Haitian government figures released earlier this month report 546 confirmed deaths and 438 injured as a result of the hurricane.
Sixteen of the 17 hottest years on record have been in the 21st century. The other one was 1998.
“If you warm the world one degree you get more lightning strikes, you get more heavy doses of rain,” Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips told CTV News Channel on Monday. “We also see greater variability. More of these wild swings almost like weather whiplash. You go from one extreme to the other.”