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2014 set to be world’s hottest year ever

 

Warm Weather in California

Vehicles drive by a 134ft-high thermometer in Baker, California. Average land and sea surface temperatures have reached record levels in 2014. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “2014 set to be world’s hottest year ever” was written by Suzanne Goldenberg, for The Guardian on Wednesday 3rd December 2014 15.03 UTC

 

The world is on course for the hottest year ever in 2014, the United Nations weather agency said on Wednesday, heightening the sense of urgency around climate change negotiations underway in Lima.

Preliminary estimates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) found global average land and sea surface temperatures for the first 10 months of 2014 had soared higher than ever recorded.

The findings – broadly in line with those of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and other scientific agencies – indicate that by year-end 2014 will break all previous high temperature records.

The steady escalation of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, have seen a succession of record-breaking years for temperature since the dawning of the 21st century and 2014 promises to be no exception, the WMO said.

“Fourteen of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century,” said the WMO’s secretary-general Michel Jarraud. “What we saw in 2014 is consistent with what we expect from a changing climate.

“Record-breaking heat combined with torrential rainfall and floods destroyed livelihoods and ruined lives. What is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface, including in the northern hemisphere,” he said.

The new evidence provided by the WMO report of the gathering risks of climate change undercut the optimism expressed by negotiators from industrialised countries at the opening of the Lima talks.

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate official, said the findings drove home the urgency of reaching a deal. Negotiations have been grinding on for more than 20 years.

“Our climate is changing and every year the risks of extreme weather events and impacts on humanity rise,” she said.

Ed Davey, the UK climate secretary, said the UN climate talks were critical to stop temperatures rising to dangerous levels. “More record warm temperatures in the UK and across the world are yet more evidence that we need to act urgently to prevent dangerous climate change,” he said.

Officials from nearly 200 countries will spend the next two weeks in Lima working to agree on a plan to cut global greenhouse gas emissions fast enough and deeply enough to limit warming to 2C above pre-industrial times, the official objective of the UN talks.

But even that goal – which scientists say may not go far enough to prevent low-lying island states from drowning in rising seas – may be moving beyond reach.

“When confronted with numbers like these, the challenge to stablise global warming below dangerous levels can seem daunting indeed,” Michael Mann, the climate scientist, said. “The globe is warming, ice is melting, and our climate is changing, as a result. And the damage is being felt – in the forms of more destructive weather extremes, more devastating wildfires, and unprecedented threats to the survival of endangered animal species.”

 

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