Warsaw, Poland – A report released Wednesday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) at the UN Climate Change Conference meeting in Warsaw, Poland, states that 2013 is currently on course to being among the top 10 warmest years since modern records began in 1850, has added to earlier reports on severe weather-related catastrophes and the need to implement substantial and sustained emission reduction.
WMO says the first nine months, January to September, tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period on record, with a global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 1961–1990 average.
“January-September 2013 was warmer than the same period in both 2011 and 2012, when La Niña had a cooling influence. Neither La Niña nor El Niño conditions were present during the first nine months of 2013 and are not expected to emerge by the end of the year. El Niño/La Niña is a major driver of our climate and the hottest years on record, 2010 and 1998, both had El Niño events,” states the report.
In contrast with 2012, when the United States, in particular, observed record high annual temperatures, the warmth in 2013 was most extreme in Australia.
“Temperatures so far this year are about the same as the average during 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade on record,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
“All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998,” he said.
“Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2012, and we expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013. This means that we are committed to a warmer future,” added Jarraud.
“Surface temperatures are only part of the wider picture of our changing climate. The impact on our water cycle is already becoming apparent – as manifested by droughts, floods and extreme precipitation.”
The Philippines is reeling from the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the most powerful tropical cyclone ever to hit the country and one of the most intense ever recorded anywhere. It is still struggling to recover from Typhoon Bopha (Pablo) one year ago.
Although individual tropical cyclones cannot be directly attributed to climate change, higher
sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges.
“Sea levels will continue to rise because of melting ice caps and glaciers. More than 90 percent of the extra heat we are generating from greenhouse gas is absorbed by the oceans, which will consequently continue to warm and expand for hundreds of years,” Jarraud explained.
The southern African countries of Angola and Namibia were gripped by one of the worst droughts in the past 30 years, the report says. An active West-African summer monsoon season (July−September) brought average to above-average rainfall over most of central and western parts of the Sahel.