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UN: 2010s the hottest decade on record

December 3, 2019

Each of the previous four decades have been hotter than the last, and the past decade is set to continue that trend, according to a new UN report. 2019 could be the second-warmest year on record.

A thermometer in the sun
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/HMB Media/O. Mueller

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Tuesday warned that preliminary data suggests the period from 2010 to 2019 is "almost certain" to be the hottest decade on record.

The report comes as delegates around the world meet at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid, Spain.

Read more: COP25 summit eyes the nitty-gritty in climate talks

Report's findings

  • Average temperatures over the past five years (2015-2019) and 10 years (2010-2019) are "almost certain to be the warmest five-year period and decade on record."
  • Oceans are now at their highest recorded temperatures.
  • 2019 is set to be the second- or third-warmest year since 1850.
  • Sea water is 26% more acidic than at the start of the industrial era. 
  • Arctic sea ice approached record lows in September and October of this year.
  • Antarctica saw record-low ice several times this year.

'Climate-related risks hit hard'

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that the higher temperatures could make heat waves, floods and tropical cyclones "more regular occurrences."

"Once again in 2019 weather and climate related risks hit hard," Taalas said in a statement. "Heatwaves and floods which used to be 'once in a century' events are becoming more regular occurrences.

"Countries ranging from the Bahamas to Japan to Mozambique suffered the effect of devastating tropical cyclones. Wildfires swept through the Arctic and Australia."

Record greenhouse gas levels: The WMO's Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, published last week, said that climate-change-driving greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere hit a new high. The report said carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations rose from 405.5 parts per million in 2017 to 407.8 parts per million in 2018, a 2.3 parts per million rise that exceeded the average annual increase from 2005-2015 of 2.06 parts per million.

'Green revolution' pledge: At the start of the COP25 climate summit on Monday, 200 countries pledged to start a "green revolution" to combat the effects of climate change. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "disappointed" with efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

dv/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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