2015 set to be hottest year on record: UN

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

GENEVA: The year 2015 is shap­ing up to be the hottest on record, the UN’s weather agency said yes­ter­day, a week ahead of a cru­cial cli­mate change sum­mit in Paris. “2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record, with ocean sur­face tem­per­a­tures at the high­est level since mea­sure­ments be­gan,” said Michel Jar­raud, head of the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion. “This is all bad news for the planet,” he added in a state­ment.

The WMO said data from the first 10 months of the year sug­gested tem­per­a­tures over land and sea would tick in at their high­est level ever mea­sured this year, af­ter al­ready reach­ing record highs in 2014. The UN agency said the pre­lim­i­nary data showed the global av­er­age sur­face tem­per­a­ture has reached “the sym­bolic and sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone” of 1.0 de­gree Cel­sius (1.8 de­gree Fahren­heit) above mid-19th cen­tury lev­els.

Global sur­face tem­per­a­tures this year are also about 0.73 de­grees Cel­sius above the 1961-1990 av­er­age of 14 de­grees Cel­sius, WMO said. The UN agency usu­ally waits to have data stretch­ing over a full year be­fore draw­ing any con­clu­sions, but said it wanted to re­lease its pre­lim­i­nary find­ings “to in­form ne­go­tia­tors at the UN Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence in Paris.” More than 145 world lead­ers are set to gather in the French cap­i­tal Monday to launch the 12-day con­fer­ence aimed at se­cur­ing a res­cue pact for the global cli­mate aimed at cap­ping global warm­ing at two de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 de­grees Fahren­heit) above the pre-in­dus­trial era.

‘We have a choice’

“Green­house gas emis­sions, which are caus­ing cli­mate change, can be con­trolled,” Jar­raud said. “We have the knowl­edge and the tools to act. We have a choice,” he said. “Fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will not.” Sea-sur­face tem­per­a­tures hit new records last year, and WMO said yes­ter­day they were “likely to equal or sur­pass that record in 2015.” Since oceans have been ab­sorb­ing more than 90 per­cent of the en­ergy ac­cu­mu­lated in the cli­mate sys­tem from hu­man emis­sions of green­house gases, tem­per­a­tures at greater depths are also ris­ing, as are sea lev­els, the agency said. In the first nine months of 2015, global ocean heat con­tent through both the up­per 700 me­ters and 2,000 me­ters of the oceans hit record highs, it said.

Sea lev­els in the first half of the year mean­while ap­peared to be “the high­est since satel­lite ob­ser­va­tions be­came avail­able in 1993.” The UN agency also said sig­nif­i­cantly warmer than av­er­age tem­per­a­tures had been mea­sured so far this year over the ma­jor­ity of ob­served land ar­eas. China had its warm­est Jan­uary-to-Oc­to­ber pe­riod on record, Africa is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its sec­ond warm­est year on record, while tem­per­a­tures have also soared in western North America, large parts of South America, Africa and south­ern and east­ern Eura­sia. Se­vere heat­waves have hit In­dia and Pak­istan, as well as Europe, North Africa and the Mid­dle East.

Hottest five-year pe­riod

The soar­ing tem­per­a­tures this year ap­pear to be part of a trend, with WMO in­di­cat­ing that the years 2011-2015 marked the hottest five-year pe­riod ever mea­sured. The past five years have been 0.57 de­grees Cel­sius (1.01 de­grees Fahren­heit) above the 1961-90 av­er­age, it said, re­fer­ring to pre­lim­i­nary data up to the end of Septem­ber, WMO said, ex­plain­ing that its five-year anal­y­sis pro­vides a bet­ter in­di­ca­tion of how the cli­mate is chang­ing over time than its an­nual re­ports.

The five-year pe­riod had seen nu­mer­ous ex­treme weather events that were in­flu­enced by cli­mate change, WMO said, adding that the warm­ing cli­mate had in­creased the prob­a­bil­ity of heat waves by a fac­tor of 10 or more in some cases. The pend­ing heat records come af­ter con­cen­tra­tions of car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases in the at­mos­phere hit record highs in 2014, prompt­ing WMO ear­lier this month to warn that cli­mate change was mov­ing the world into “un­charted ter­ri­tory.” Yes­ter­day’s report also comes as El Nino, a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non that sparks global cli­mate ex­tremes, is at its strong­est in more than 15 years and still gain­ing strength.

— AP

TE­LAN­GANA: An In­dian man rests in front of an air cooler to cool him­self on a hot sum­mer day in Hy­der­abad, in the south­ern In­dian state of Te­lan­gana. Be­cause of man-made global warm­ing and a strong El Nino, Earth’s wild weather this year is burst­ing the an­nual heat record, the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced yes­ter­day.

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