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Global temperatures are higher than ever, according to annual WMO report

Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines. Creative Commons: JMA/EUMETSAT, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines. Creative Commons: JMA/EUMETSAT, 2013

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual climate report Monday, which highlights the trend of continually rising temperatures and their effect on weather patterns worldwide.

The report reiterated the earlier finding that 2013 was the sixth warmest on record and that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred this century. It also found that, contrary to the claims of climate deniers, there has been no ‘pause’ in global warming.

In a statement accompanying the report, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud made it absolutely clear that deniers’ claims have no basis in scientific reality:

There is no standstill in global warming. The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90 percent of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans. Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.

The WMO report highlighted the particularly extreme effects of climate change on the southern hemisphere: 2013 was the hottest year ever in Australia, the second hottest year in Argentina and the third hottest year in New Zealand’s record books.

The Arctic didn’t fare much better in 2013. Last year, ice readings taken there were the sixth lowest ever recorded. The low levels of ice last year form part of a concerning trend: the seven lowest ice readings ever recorded all occurred over the last seven years.

Meanwhile, the report noted that 2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record and that each of the three previous decades was warmer than its predecessor.

The WMO focused in on the extreme weather impacts of climate change, releasing an interactive map to accompany their study. The map plots the location of many of the climate events highlighted in the study, including Typhoon Haiyan, the prolonged drought in Northeastern Brazil, and the heat waves that afflicted Western Europe in the summer of 2013.

The WMO’s perspective was not only retrospective, however. Looking forward, Jarraud emphasized the role of youth in solving the climate crisis:

 The world’s youth can be a powerful actor of change. Young people are a source of innovation and of fresh insights into problems and their possible solutions. They call for just, equitable solutions.

These new findings come just days ahead of the release of the latest working group report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will detail the global impacts of climate change.

A draft version of the soon-to-be-released IPCC report reiterates that continually increasing greenhouse gas emissions is a recipe for heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise.

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