2020 in top three
WMO has documented the last six years as being the warmest.
In January, the UN agency will issue consolidated temperature figures for 2020, based on five global temperature datasets.
This will be incorporated into a final report on the State of the Climate in 2020, which will be issued in March and will include information on selected climate impacts.
To date, all five datasets for the first 10 months of 2020 has placed this year as the second warmest for the year to date, following 2016 and ahead of 2019.
Based on monthly reports from the European Unions’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Japan Meteorological Agency, November has been classified as either the warmest or second warmest on record.
The difference between the warmest three years is small and exact rankings for each data set could change once data for the entire year are available, according to WMO.
A perilous trend
Ranking temperatures for individual years is less important than long-term trends, the UN weather agency explained.
Since the 1980s each decade has been warmer than the previous one. And because of record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the trend is expected to persist.
In particular, carbon dioxide is driving the planet to future warming because it remains in the atmosphere for many decades.
According to WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, there is a one-in-five chance that the average global temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5 °C by 2024