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2016 set to be hottest year ever: UN

News Agencies | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

The United Nations weather agency has claimed that 2016 is set to be the hottest year after global temperatures for the first six months shattered previous years' records.

The Arctic sea ice melted early and fast, another indicator of climate change and carbon dioxide levels, which are driving global warming, have reached new highs, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on 21 July.

"Another month, another record. And another. And another. Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fuelled by the strong 2015/2016 El Nino," said WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas.

The El Nino event, which turned up the Earth's thermostat, has now disappeared, but "climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not", Taalas said.

He said it will result in more heatwaves, more extreme rainfall and potential for higher impact tropical cyclones.

The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th century, according to NASA.

To calculate global temperature statistics for its annual state of the climate report, WMO uses datasets from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS) and the UK's Met Office and reanalysis data from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF).

NOAA said the global land and ocean average temperature for January to June was 1.05 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average, beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.20 degree Celsius.

Most of the world's land and ocean surfaces had warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions.

The El Nino event which developed in 2015 and was one of the most powerful on record contributed to the record temperatures in the first half of 2016. It dissipated in May.

June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans and marked the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average.

The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984.

Carbon dioxide concentrations have passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere so far this year and CO2 levels vary according to the season, but the underlying trend is upwards, the report said.

They showed a surprising increase for the first half of 2016, rising in June 2016 to nearly 407 ppm, 4 ppm greater than June 2015, the agency said.

"This underlines more starkly than ever the need to approve and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to speed up the shift to low carbon economies and renewable energy," Taalas said.


First published: 22 July 2016, 5:53 IST