London — The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Monday warned that it is very likely that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, with global temperatures even higher than the record-breaking temperatures in 2015.
If WMO is right, this year will be the third in a row to set a record with sixteen of the seventeen hottest years on record being in this century.
According to WMO, preliminary data shows that this year's global temperatures are approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In addition, temperatures are 0.88 degrees Celsius above the average for the 1961-1990 period.
It noted that temperatures spiked in the early months of the year because of the powerful El Nino event of 2015-16.
WMO warned that long-term climate change indicators are also breaking records. Concentrations of major greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere continue to increase to new levels. Arctic sea ice remained at very low levels, and there was significant and very early melting of the Greenland ice sheet. In addition, the El Nino event has contributed to coral reef bleaching and sea level rises.
According to the Secretary General of WMO, Petteri Taalas, “because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen. Once in a generation heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular. Sea level rise has increased exposure to storm surges associated with tropical cyclones”.
WMO reported that the annual average global carbon dioxide concentrations reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015, and warned that initial observations indicate new records in 2016.
The WMO statement was released to coincide with the UN climate change conference (COP 22) which is taking place in Marrakech, Morocco.
About 1.5 million people in southern and central Mozambique are currently affected by severe drought, which is linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon. However, the long term weather forecast is for above normal rainfall in southern and central Mozambique during the current rainy season. If correct, this will provide some relief for farmers who have faced two years of drought. However, it also brings the threat of flooding and rain damage.