The earth is on track for its hottest year on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday, warning that the planet could be warming up at a faster rate than expected.
Temperatures recorded in the first six months of 2016, coupled with an early and fast Arctic sea ice melt and “new highs” in carbon dioxide levels, point to quickening climate change, it said.
June marked the 14th straight month of record heat, the UN agency said, according to Reuters.
“What we’ve seen so far for the first six months of 2016 is really quite alarming,” David Carlson, director of the WMO’s Climate Research Program, was quoted as saying at a news briefing.
“This year suggests that the planet can warm up faster than we expected in a much shorter time… We don’t have as much time as we thought.”
The UN agency called for speedy implementation of a global pact reached in Paris last December to limit climate change by shifting from fossil fuels to green energy.
The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3° Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial era of the late 19th Century, according to space agency NASA.
“There’s almost no plausible scenario at this point that is going to get us anything other than an extraordinary year in terms of ice (melt), CO2, temperature – all the things that we track,” Carlson said.
“If we got this much surprise this year, how many more surprises are ahead of us?”
A strong El Nino weather event from 2015/2016 in the Pacific Ocean contributed to the record temperatures in the first half of 2016 before disappearing in May, according to WMO.
“Climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not (disappear). This means we face more heatwaves, more extreme rainfall and potential for higher impact tropical cyclones,” said Petteri Taalas, the agency’s secretary-general.
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