As delegates from over 190 nations debate a new international climate deal in Peru, a statement from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO), released Wednesday, declared that 2014 is on track to becoming the hottest year ever recorded. The announcement has further underscored the importance of immediate and decisive action against anthropogenic climate change.
Data gathered by WMO indicate that the average global air temperature in the first 10 months of the year was over 1 degree Fahrenheit higher than the average temperature for the 1961-1990 reference period. This year, the global temperature between January and October was also found to be higher than the average temperature recorded in the past 10 years by about 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit.
“If November and December maintain the same tendency, then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998,” WMO said, in the statement, adding that the observations conformed to a long-term warming trend.
“The provisional information for 2014 means that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said, in the statement. “Record-high greenhouse gas emissions and associated atmospheric concentrations are committing the planet to a much more uncertain and inhospitable future.”
The provisional report released by WMO pointed out that 2014 has been a year of extremes, with regions in the U.S. and China being hit by severe droughts, while the U.K., Japan and countries in the Balkan region were battered by severe storms.
“In September, southern parts of the Balkan Peninsula received over 250 percent of the monthly average rainfall and, in parts of Turkey, over 500 percent of normal … the monthly precipitation over the Pacific side of western Japan for August 2014 was 301 percent of normal, which was the highest since area-averaged statistics began in 1946,” the WMO said.
High sea temperatures -- about 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1961-1990 average -- even in the absence of the warming effects of El Nino, contributed significantly to the rise in global temperatures and prevalence of extreme weather events, according to the report. “What we saw in 2014 is consistent with what we expect from a changing climate,” Jarraud said.
The release of the provisional WMO report -- timed to coincide with the U.N.-led climate change conference in Peru -- came just a day after a study, conducted jointly by scientists from the University of California and NASA, found that between 1992 and 2013, glaciers in western Antarctica shed the weight of Mount Everest in ice every two years.
The joint study, which found that the rate of melt has increased three-fold since 2003, considered along with the provisional findings of WMO, refute claims that global warming has “paused” since 1998.
“There is no pause, there is no hiatus in global warming,” Jarraud reportedly said on Wednesday. “Every decade has been warmer than the preceding decade.”