UN climate agency: Extreme weather in ‘uncharted territory’

UN climate agency: Extreme weather in ‘uncharted territory’
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Extreme weather events triggered by a warming globe are pushing the Earth into “truly uncharted territory,” the United Nations’ weather agency said on Tuesday. 

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual repot on extreme weather events on Tuesday, saying the prevalence of climate-related weather issues last year “made history” and has continued into 2017. 

The agency noted “unprecedented” global sea ice loss last year, coral bleaching brought on by warm sea waters, drought in Africa and Central America, a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and flooding throughout Asia.

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The WMO blamed last year’s El Niño for increasing warming last year. But it said that’s on top of an overall warming trend that has continued to influence extreme weather events into 2017. 

“Globally averaged sea surface temperatures were also the warmest on record, global sea levels continued to rise and Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average for most of the year,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

“With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident.”

In 2017, the agency said, officials have observed three “Polar equivalent[s] of a heatwave,” where temperatures there were close to the melting point. It noted nearly 12,000 new warm temperature records in the United States and unusual heat in Canada and Australia.

“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system,” World Climate Research program director David Carlson said in a statement. 

“We are now in truly uncharted territory."