The United Nations’ top meteorologist warned Wednesday that 2014 is on track to be the hottest year on record and placed the blame on the continued increase in greenhouse gases.
“There is no pause, there is no hiatus in global warming,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization.
A French scientist, Jarraud, 62, noted that in the last four decades “every decade has been warmer than the preceding decade.”
Jarraud made his remarks as negotiators from rich and developing countries were meeting in Lima, Peru, to try to draft an accord to curb carbon emissions levels. The agreement is scheduled to be signed at a summit to be held in Paris in late 2015, though a previous effort at a global accord failed in 2009. Expectations have been given a boost, however, because of an agreement by President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, under which both pledged to cut carbon emissions.
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In a provisional report on the “Status of the Global Climate in 2014,” released in Geneva and in Lima, the World Meteorological Organization said Earth’s average air temperature for the first 10 months of 2014 was 1.03 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average of 57.2 degrees F measured from 1961 to 1990.
The analysis said that if that trend holds in November and December, “then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998.”
Jarraud said the provisional finding indicates “that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century.”
While Jarraud said this year’s extreme weather events “can’t 100 percent be attributed to climate change,” he called them “consistent with what we expect from climate change.”
Among the events the World Meteorological Organization identified as possibly due to climate change:
– Above-average temperatures in South America, particularly in southern Brazil and northern Argentina, where October’s temperatures were the second highest on record.
– Cooler than average temperatures in the first 10 months of the year in the United States and Canada. In seven U.S. states, the period was the coldest on record. Persistent cold during the winter led to 91 percent of the Great Lakes being frozen at the beginning of March, the second largest ice cover since records began in 1973.
– At the same time, eight states in the West recorded some of their warmest temperatures ever, with California recording its hottest ever January-October period.
– Drought conditions continued in California, Nevada and Texas, where rainfall was 40 percent less than the average recorded from 1961 to 1990.
– Last winter was the wettest on record in the United Kingdom since 1766.