2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row, according to the UN. It means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been this century.
The scorching temperatures around the world, and the extreme weather they drive, mean the impacts of climate change on people are coming sooner and with more ferocity than expected, according to scientists.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, published on Monday at the global climate summit in Morocco, found the global temperature in 2016 is running 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. This is perilously close to the 1.5C target included as an aim of the Paris climate agreement last December.
The El Niño weather phenomenon helped push temperatures even higher in early 2016 but the global warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities remains the strongest factor.
“Another year. Another record,” said WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas. “The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.”
“Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen,” he said. “‘Once in a generation’ heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular.”
The record-smashing heat led to searing heatwaves across the year: a new high of 42.7C was recorded in Pretoria, South Africa in January; Mae Hong Son in Thailand saw 44.6C on 28 April; Phalodi in India reached 51.0C in May and Mitribah in Kuwait recorded 54.0C in July. Parts of Arctic Russia also saw extreme warming--6C to 7C above average
Extreme weather and climate related events have damaged farming and food security, affecting more than 60 million people, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The forecast for 2017 is another very hot year, but probably not a record breaker.