UN says 2019 was one of the hottest years on record after decade of 'exceptional' heat

This summer saw the hottest day on record measured at 38.7C in Cambridge University Botanic Garden. (PA)
This summer saw the hottest day on record measured at 38.7C in Cambridge University Botanic Garden. (PA)

This year has officially been one of the hottest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

The UN body said that the past decade has been characterised by “exceptional” heat and has almost certainly been the warmest in records dating back to the 19th century.

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This year temperatures soared to 1.1C above pre-industrial levels, putting 2019 on course to be the second or third hottest year on record - according to data recorded between January and October.

The past year has seen droughts in many parts of the world and two major heatwaves in Europe in late June and late July – with a new temperature record of 38.7C set in the UK.

People enjoying the warm weather at Camber, East Sussex in July this year. (PA)
People enjoying the warm weather at Camber, East Sussex in July this year. (PA)

The WMO argues that sea levels are rising ever faster, ice is melting and “once in a century” heatwaves and floods are now becoming more regular occurrences.

Millions of people were forced from their homes as a result of extreme events such as cyclones, hurricanes and flooding.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas: “If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human well-being.

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“On a day-to-day basis, the impacts of climate change play out through extreme and “abnormal” weather.

And he warned: “One of the main impacts of climate change is more erratic rainfall patterns.

“This poses a threat to crop yields and, combined with population increase, will mean considerable food security challenges for vulnerable countries in the future.”

The year 2016, which began with an exceptional “El Nino” weather phenomenon in the Pacific that pushes up global temperatures, remains the hottest year on record.

The report draws on information from other UN bodies and three major global temperature datasets, including from the Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit

Colin Morice, of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: “Our global temperature figures are in agreement with other centres around the world that 2019 is set to join each of the years from 2015 as the five warmest years on record.

“Each decade from the 1980s has been warmer than the previous decade. 2019 will conclude the warmest decade in records that stretch back to the mid-19th century.”

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