Climate changing at ‘unprecedented’ rate: UN

A man cools off during a warm summer day in Baghdad July 30, 2015. (File photo: Reuters)

January and February 2016 smashed temperature records, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday as it warned climate change was advancing at an “unprecedented” rate.

Temperatures in the first two months of 2016 soared to new highs, following a year that broke “all previous records by a wide margin,” the UN’s weather agency said.

The WMO pointed to record 2015 land and sea surface temperatures, unabated sea-level rise, shrinking sea ice and extreme weather events around the world.

“The alarming rate of change we are now witnessing in our climate as a result of greenhouse gas emissions is unprecedented in modern records,” the WMO’s new chief, Petteri Taalas, said in a statement.

Dave Carlson, head of the WMO-co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme, said the rising temperatures this year were especially alarming, describing them as “a slap in the face.”

“There is a relentless trend upwards,” he told reporters in Geneva, saying the “startlingly high temperatures so far in 2016 have sent shockwaves around the climate science community.”

WMO confirmed findings by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week.

The US agency determined that last month was the warmest February since modern records began, with an average temperature that was 1.21 degrees Celsius (2.18 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th-century average.

The hike in temperatures during the first two months of the year was especially felt in the far north, with the extent of sea ice in the Arctic at a satellite-record low in February, WMO said.

That is “quite a dramatic indication of climate change. We have never seen such an event before,” Taalas told reporters in Geneva.
Carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere also crossed the threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm) during the first two months of the year, WMO said.

In 2014, CO2 levels had already risen to 397.7 ppm, which was 143 percent of levels prior to 1750, considered the start of the industrial era.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:57 - GMT 10:57