The long-term climate warming trend is continuing, with 2018 set to be the fourth hottest year on record, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said.
Global temperatures were almost 1C above pre-industrial levels in the first 10 months of 2018, which comes in behind 2016, 2015 and 2017 in the ranking of the hottest years ever recorded, figures from five global data sets show.
The 20 hottest years on record have all occurred in the past 22 years, the WMO said, and over the past five years from 2014 to 2018, global temperatures have averaged more than 1C above pre-industrial levels.
Other signs of climate change including sea level rises, the oceans warming and becoming more acidic as they absorb carbon emissions, sea ice and glacier melting, and more extreme weather, have all been seen this year.
With signs of a return to “El Nino” conditions in the Pacific, a weather pattern which pushes up global temperatures on top of long term climate warming, 2019 could be on track to be hotter than 2018, the WMO said.
The body is publishing its annual draft temperature bulletin ahead of international climate talks in Katowice, Poland, where implementation of the 2015 Paris deal to curb global warming will be under discussion.
WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said: “We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases.
“Greenhouse gas concentrations are once again at record levels and if the current trend continues we may see temperature increases 3-5C by the end of the century.
“If we exploit all known fossil fuel resources, the temperature rise will be considerably higher.”
Long-term #climatechange continued in 2018. Average global temperature set to be 4th highest on record, nearly 1°C above pre-industrial era. 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top 4 in the past 4 years: new WMO #StateofClimate report #COP24pic.twitter.com/3nUXHoUXoL
— WMO OMM (@WMO) November 29, 2018
And he asked: “It is worth repeating once again that we are the first generation to fully understand climate change, and the last generation to be able to do something about it?”
The WMO has also warned that emissions of key greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide reached new highs in 2017.
The provisional statement on the state of the climate in 2018 warns ocean heat is at or near record highs, sea levels were 2-3mm higher in the first half of this year than the same period in 2017, and Arctic sea ice extent was well below average throughout 2018.
It also documents the extremes the world has experienced this year, from deadly wildfires in California and Greece, to heatwaves and drought in Europe, typhoons and hurricanes, and flooding in places such as Kerala, India, and east Africa.