This year is on track to become one of the hottest ever recorded, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the weather agency of the United Nations.
The agency released preliminary estimates on Wednesday showing that the planet is experiencing one of its hottest years ever. And if high temperatures continue at current rates, 2014 will be the hottest in 135 years of record-keeping.
High global sea surface temperatures are also causing extreme weather, including heavy rainfall, floods and extreme drought.
“If November and December maintain the same tendency, then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998,” WMO said. “This confirms the underlying long-term warming trend.”
Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general, said the information on 2014 means that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all taken place in the 21st century.
“Record-high greenhouse gas emissions and associated atmospheric concentrations are committing the planet to a much more uncertain and inhospitable future,” Jarraud said.
“WMO and its Members will continue to improve forecasts and services to help people cope with more frequent and damaging extreme weather and climate conditions,” he added.
Jarraud said 2014 was particularly “unusual” and “alarming” because of high temperatures over large swaths of the ocean, including in the Northern Hemisphere.
WMO’s estimates back up separate findings from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which found the planet had its warmest January–October period on record this year.