Five hottest years on record have occurred since 2011
New data released by the WMO shows that the five years from 2011 to 2015 were the warmest on record. The report, published at climate talks in Morocco, strongly links human activities to rising temperatures. It says that some studies found the the burning of fossil fuels had increased the probability of extreme heat by 10 times or more.
The authors say that 2016 will likely break the record for warmest year. In their report on the global climate 2011-2015, the WMO says that the world's temperature was 0.57C above the long term average, which they define as being between 1961 and 1990. The five year period was the warmest for all continents except Africa.
Throughout these years, temperatures over most of Europe were more than one degree Celsius above the long term trend. This was also the case in the Asian part of the Russian Federation, over much of the Sahara and Arabian regions, parts of South Africa, southwest US and the interior of Brazil. The mercury even reached three degrees above the average on the Arctic coast of Russia.
"This report confirms that the average temperature in 2015 had already reached the 1 degree C mark. We just had the hottest five-year period on record, with 2015 claiming the title of hottest individual year. Even that record is likely to be beaten in 2016."
The rise in temperatures is linked directly to the increase in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. In 2015 the WMO says the annual mean concentrations of CO2 were at the symbolically important level of 400 parts per million (ppm), having grown by between 1.9ppm and 2.99ppm between 2011 and 2015.
The new report highlighted the human fingerprint in these emissions and the link to extreme weather events by looking at academic literature in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).
"Of 79 such studies published by BAMS between 2011 and 2014, more than half found that anthropogenic climate change contributed to the extreme event under consideration," the new report says.