GENEVA: The last three years were the hottest on record, the United Nations weather agency said on Thursday, citing fresh global data underscoring the dramatic warming of the planet.
Consolidated data from five leading international weather agencies shows that “2015, 2016 and 2017 have been confirmed as the three warmest years on record”, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said.
It added that 2016 remains the hottest year ever measured due to the warming effect of El Nino, while 2017 was the warmest non-El Nino year, beating out 2015 by less than one hundredth of a degree. “The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,” WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
The 21st century has so far been a period of the hottest weather, accounting for 17 of the 18 warmest years on record. “And the degree of warming during the past three years has been exceptional,” Tasslas added.
The WMO also highlighted the intensification of weather and climate related disasters, which hit record levels in the United States last year, while multiple countries were devastated by cyclones, floods and drought.
The WMO findings were based on data provided by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US space agency Nasa, Britain’s Met office, the European Centre for medium range weather forecasts and the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Using those inputs, the UN said that the average global surface temperature last year was 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Reacting to the results, experts warned that the planet was moving closer to a set of red lines laid out in the historic 2015 Paris climate agreement. That treaty calls for capping global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius.
“When even ‘colder’ (non-El Nino) years are rewriting the warmest year record books we know we have a problem,” said Dave Reay, the Carbon Management chair at the University of Edinburgh.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2018