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According to the WMO, an agency of the United Nations, this decade has been the hottest on record so far. In 2019 alone, temperatures have been 1.1 degrees Celsius above average in the pre-industrial era between 1850-1900 and this year has been among the two to three warmest ever recorded.
In 2019 several meteorological records were broken. Extreme heat swept across large parts of Europe, India and elsewhere this past summer. These heat waves were not mere anomalies either, according to the World Weather Organization.
"The year 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, ice retreat and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities," notes the WMO. "With the average temperatures recorded, 2019 is on track to be the second or third warmest year on record."
Scientific consensus attributes the relentless rise in global temperatures to rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. Last year, CO2 concentrations reached a record level of 407.8 parts per million. This year they have risen even higher and the United Nations has warned that more massive amounts of fossil fuels will be burned in the coming years, undermining global climate mitigation efforts.
“CO2 lasts in the atmosphere for centuries and in the ocean even longer, blocking climate change. Sea level rise has accelerated since the start of satellite measurements in 1993 due to the melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, ”says WMO.
“The ocean, acting as a buffer by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide, is paying a high price. Ocean heat is at record levels and there have been widespread marine heat waves. Seawater is 26 percent more acidic than at the beginning of the industrial age, ”adds the UN agency.
"Vital marine ecosystems are degrading. The daily minimum of sea ice extent in the Arctic in September 2019 was the second lowest on the satellite record and more record expanses were recorded in October. In Antarctica, this year the lowest levels of ice were recorded ”, they clarify from the organism.
There is a pressing need to act on global emissions, underlines WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas. “If we don't take urgent climate action now, we are heading for a temperature rise of more than 3 ° C by the end of the century, with increasingly damaging impacts on human well-being. We are not close to reaching the goal of the Paris Agreement, "he said.
"On a day-to-day basis, the impacts of climate change unfold through extreme and abnormal weather." And, once again in 2019, weather and climate-related risks hit hard. Heat waves and floods that used to be “once in a century” events are becoming more frequent. Countries ranging from the Bahamas to Japan to Mozambique were hit by devastating tropical cyclones. Wildfires ravaged the Arctic and Australia, ”explained Taalas.