The last four years were the hottest since global temperature records began according to the United Nations.
The alarming news comes as the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) climate models concluded that the average global surface temperature in 2018 was 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) above pre-industrial baseline levels.
2016, which was influenced by a strong El-Niño event, remains the warmest year on record with 20 of the warmest years in history all occurring within the last 22 years.
Global average surface temperature in 2018 was approximately 1.0° C above pre-industrial baseline. 2015-2018 were 4 warmest years on record. WMO consolidates datasets from @NASAGISS, @NOAA, @metoffice, @CopernicusECMWF and JMA. All confirm that #climatechange is here and now. pic.twitter.com/qYZBGvbOqV— WMO | OMM (@WMO) February 6, 2019
In their analysis, the body warned the latest data figures are a “clear sign of continuing long-term climate change associated with record atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.”
Rowan Sutton, director of science for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) forecasts more heat records in the years to come.
“Over the next five years the high temperatures seen recently are likely to be sustained and that further warming may well occur, perhaps reaching new record levels for annual average temperatures,” he said.
The WMO said heightened temperatures also contributed to a number of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts and flash flooding.
“Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is the reality we need to face up to,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
The UN body also said that 2019 had picked up where 2018 left off, with Australia experiencing its warmest January on record. It warned that intense heatwaves “are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change.”
Taalas said that the recent record cold snap was entirely consistent with the effects of man-made climate change, including the warming of the poles.
“A part of the cold anomalies at lower latitudes could be linked to dramatic changes in the Arctic,” he said.
“What happens at the poles does not stay at the poles but influences weather and climate conditions in lower latitudes where hundreds of millions of people live.”
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