0137 GMT January 23, 2020
Climate change and the peaking of the El Niño weather phenomenon are expected to drive the global average temperature next year above the record now certain to be set for 2015, which itself beat a new record set in 2014, the Guardian reported.
The forecast comes just five days after 195 nations agreed a historic deal to fight global warming at a UN summit in Paris by keeping the world’s temperature rise under 2°C, with an ambition to restrict the rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, showing how challenging it will be to meet the 1.5°C goal. The Met Office said there was just a five-percent chance the global average temperature in 2016 would be below that in 2015.
“The vast majority of the warming is global warming, but the icing on the cake is the big El Niño event,” said Prof. Adam Scaife, head of monthly to decadal prediction at the Met Office.
El Niño is a natural cycle of warming in the Pacific Ocean which has a global impact on weather. The current episode is the biggest since 1998 and is peaking now, but the global temperature effects take time to spread around the globe. “We expect the peak warming from El Niño in the 2016 figures,” said Scaife.
Rising temperatures driven by global warming combined with natural variability leads to a greater chance of extreme weather events, he said: “When variability adds to the underlying warming, it can give impacts that have never been seen before."
Heatwaves have scorched China, Russia, Australia, the Middle East and parts of South America in the last two years. The recent floods in the northwest of England are estimated to have been made 40 percent more likely by climate change.
Despite rising greenhouse gas emissions trapping ever more heat on Earth, the last decade has seen relatively slow warming of air temperatures, dubbed a pause in climate change by some.
In fact, global warming had not paused at all. Instead, natural climate cycles led to more of the trapped heat being stored in the oceans. Now, according to the Met Office, all the signs are that the period of slower rises in air temperatures is over and the rate of global warming will accelerate fast in coming years. 2014 was the first year the world passed 1°C of warming above pre-industrial levels.
The temperature trend caused by climate change will continue to be upwards unless carbon emissions begin to fall. However, the Met Office does not expect the run of back-to-back records from 2014-16 to continue indefinitely, as El Niño is expected to wane during 2016.
“But the current situation shows how global warming can combine with smaller, natural fluctuations to push our climate to levels of warmth which are unprecedented in the data records,” said a Met Office statement.
“This is yet more evidence that the world is warming fast. We’ll see far more savage storms and floods in places like Cumbria and Chennai if governments do not act to cut carbon pollution,” said Simon Bullock at Friends of the Earth.