UN warns 2016 to set world heat record

  • 15/11/2016
Antarctica faces global warming (AAP)
Antarctica faces global warming (AAP)

The world is set to notch up a new heat record in 2016 after a sizzling 2015 as global warming stokes more floods and rising sea levels, the UN weather agency has warned.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says this year will be the warmest since records began in the late 19th century, with average surface temperatures 1.2degC above pre-industrial times. Sixteen of the 17 hottest years recorded have been in this century.

"Another year. Another record," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement in Marrakesh, Morocco, where almost 200 nations are discussing ways to slow climate change.

The heat, with impacts such as melting Greenland ice and damage to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, was stoked by an El Nino weather event in the Pacific early in the year and by man-made greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

"The extra heat from the powerful El Nino event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue," Mr Taalas said.

The WMO said it was "very likely" that 2016 would be the hottest, barring a freak chill in coming weeks.

Mr Taalas also said extreme weather events had increased as a result of climate change.

"Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen," he said.

"'Once in a generation' heat waves and flooding are becoming more regular. Sea level rise has increased exposure to storm surges associated with tropical cyclones."

The talks have been overshadowed by Donald Trump's election win.

US President-elect Trump has called climate change a hoax and a source in his transition team says he is seeking quick ways to pull the US out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to shift the world economy away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

Earlier on Monday a scientific report projected that world carbon dioxide emissions were expected to stay flat for the third year in a row in 2016 and that US emissions would fall by 1.7 percent in 2016, driven by declines in coal consumption.