Global temperatures for the first six months of this year have shattered previous records, setting 2016 on track to be the hottest year ever, the UN weather agency has said.
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 Thursday.
“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 June was 1.05 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average, beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.20 degree Celsius.
Each month in 2016 was record warm. 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.