The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says the year 2014 is on track for being one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record, according to preliminary results issued at the side lines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.
The changes, according to the estimates, are largely due to record WMO high global sea surface temperatures, which are predicted to likely remain above normal until the end of the year.
The report says high sea temperatures, together with other factors, contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others.
The high January to October temperatures, according to WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud, occurred in the absence of a full El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
ENSO occurs when warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific combine, in a self-reinforcing loop, with atmospheric pressure systems, thus affecting weather patterns globally.
During the year, sea surface temperatures increased nearly to El Niño thresholds but this was not coupled with an atmospheric response. However, many weather and climate patterns normally associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) were observed in many parts of the world.
“The provisional information for 2014 means that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century. There is no standstill in global warming,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud,” he says.
He adds that what was observed this year is consistent with what they expect from a changing climate.
Jarraud explained that record-breaking heat combined with torrential rainfall and floods destroyed livelihoods and ruined lives. He said what is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface, including in the northern hemisphere.
Record-high greenhouse gas emissions and associated atmospheric concentrations according to Jarraud are committing the planet to a much more uncertain and inhospitable future.
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commenting on the report expressed fears over the fact that then changing climate the risks of extreme weather events will have an increased impact on humanity.
“Fortunately our political climate is changing too with evidence that governments, supported by investors, business and cities are moving towards a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Paris 2015”
She explained that an agreement that keeps a global temperature rise below 2 degrees C by putting in place the pathways to a deep de-carbonisation of the world’s economy and climate neutrality or ‘net zero’ in the second half of the century is urgently needed.
WMO’s provisional statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2014 indicated that the global average air temperature over land and sea surface for January to October was about 0.57° Centigrade (1.03 Fahrenheit) above the average of 14.00°C (57.2 °F) for the 1961-1990 reference period, and 0.09°C (0.16 °F) above the average for the past ten years (2004-2013).
The reports says if November and December maintain the same tendency, then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998. This according to Jarraud and his forecasters confirms the underlying long-term warming trend.
Highlights from the Statement:
Land surface temperatures
Average surface air temperatures over land for January to October 2014 were about 0.86°C above the 1961-1990 average, the fourth or fifth warmest for the same period on record.
Western North America, Europe, eastern Eurasia, much of Africa, large areas of South America and southern and western Australia were especially warm. Cooler-than-average conditions for the year-to-date were recorded across large areas of the United States and Canada and parts of central Russia.
Heatwaves occurred in South Africa, Australia and Argentina in January. Australia saw another prolonged warm spell in May. Record heat affected northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and southern Brazil in October. Notable cold waves were reported in the U.S. during the winter, Australia in August and in Russia in October.
Global sea-surface temperatures were the highest on record, at about 0.45°C above the 1961-1990 average.
By Wambi Michael