2017 likely to be the second hottest year since 1880: UN weather agency

2017 would be the hottest on record without a natural El Nino event that releases heat from the Pacific Ocean about once every five years, says the World Meteorological Organisation.

world Updated: Nov 06, 2017 20:37 IST
Malavika Vyawahare
Malavika Vyawahare
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hottest year,World Meteorological Organisation,2017 Weather
Children seen during a climate march prior to the opening session of the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference 2017 that began in Bonn on Monday.(REUTERS)

This year could turn out to be the second hottest year since the records began in 19th century, UN weather agency World Meteorological Organisation announced on Monday as countries gathered for climate change talks in Bonn.

Temperatures were the highest ever in 2016, which climatologists attribute to El Nino event that releases heat from Pacific Ocean that contributes to warmer weather. El Nino was the reason that 2015 and 2014 saw sweltering heat but not 2017.

In fact, the 2013-2017 period is likely to be the hottest five years the planet has seen in recorded history.

The findings of the WMO will give around 200 countries something to think about at Bonn in Germany, where they will discuss the 2015 Paris climate pact that has been dealt a blow by the US plan to pullout.

“We have witnessed extraordinary weather,” Reuters news agency quoted WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas as saying in a statement.

He pointed to severe hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean, temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius in Pakistan, Iran and Oman, monsoon floods in Asia and drought in East Africa.

“Many of these events - and detailed scientific studies will determine exactly how many - bear the tell-tale sign of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities,” Taalas said.

Over 137 years, the average temperatures over land have increased by 0.10 degrees Celsius every decade.

In 2017, temperatures from January to September were on average 1.1 degree Celsius above the 1880-1900 average, with an error margin of (0.1 degrees C), the WMO report said. The report is based on five global temperature data sets.

At the two-day Bonn climate talks, signatories of the Paris climate agreement will thrash out the details of how to keep global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels.

Pre-industrial levels refer to temperatures before the industrial revolution gathered steam in Europe in the late 18th century, leading to a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

These gases lead to global warming by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas.

A Centre for Science and Environment analysis shows that in India, seasonal variations mean that for three out of four seasons, temperatures are more than 1 degree Celsius above the 1901-1930 baseline. During the monsoons from June to September, the rains keep temperatures in check.

Greenhouse gas concentration peaked in 2016, with carbon dioxide levels reaching 403.3 parts per million.

The UN’s Emissions Gap Report 2017 released recently shows that even if all the Paris agreement signatories meet their emission targets, it still won’t be enough to keep global average temperature rise below 2 degrees C.

First Published: Nov 06, 2017 17:13 IST