Mar 21, 2018

Last three years hottest on record, severe weather hits 2018: U.N.

United States
by
Alister Doyle
,
Reuters
Petteri Taalas, Secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) attends a news conference on the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin on concentrations of CO2 at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, October 24, 2016. Photo: Denis Balibouse, Reuters
Petteri Taalas, Secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) attends a news conference on the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin on concentrations of CO2 at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, October 24, 2016. Photo: Denis Balibouse, Reuters

The past three years were the hottest on record and heat waves in Australia, freak Arctic warmth and water shortages in Cape Town are extending harmful weather extremes in 2018, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Atlantic hurricanes and monsoon floods in India contributed to make 2017 the most costly year on record for severe weather and climate events, the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) wrote in its annual report on the global climate.

“The start of 2018 has continued where 2017 left off – with extreme weather claiming lives and destroying livelihoods,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas wrote in the report.

The study confirmed a provisional finding that 2016 was the warmest year in records dating back to the 19th century, with 2017 and 2015 tied for second place in a warming trend the WMO blames on man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

Last year was the hottest year without an extra boost from an El Nino event that releases heat from the Pacific Ocean.

Talaas said unusually high temperatures in the Arctic in 2018 contrasted with bitter winter storms in Europe and North America.

Also so far in 2018, “Australia and Argentina suffered extreme heat waves, whilst drought continued in Kenya and Somalia, and the South African city of Cape Town struggled with acute water shortages,” he said.