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2016 set to be hottest year on record, UN weather agency says

2016 is "very likely" to be the hottest year on record, according to new research by the weather agency of the United Nations.

The World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) assessment of preliminary data pointed to 2016's global temperatures being around 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, it said a new report published Monday.

It said that global temperatures spiked at the beginning of the year due to the "powerful El Nino event of 2015-16." Preliminary data for October 2016 indicated that temperatures were "at a sufficiently high level" for 2016 to be the hottest year on record. If this happens, then 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been in this century.

Long term climate change indicators have also been breaking records, the WMO said, with concentrations of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hitting new records and Arctic sea ice remaining "at very low levels."

In addition, very early melting had taken place on the Greenland ice sheet, while ocean heat had helped contribute to coral reef bleaching and a higher than average sea-level rise.

"Another year. Another record. The high temperatures we saw in 2015 are set to be beaten in 2016," Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary-general, said in a statement.

"The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue," he added.



Different ball game

Taalas went on to note that in some areas of Arctic Russia, temperatures had been 6 to 7 degrees Celsius above the long term average.

"Many other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 3 (degrees Celsius) above average," he added. "We are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree, and so this is different."

"Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen. 'Once in a generation' heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular. Sea level rise has increased exposure to storm surges associated with tropical cyclones."

The WMO said it was publishing its provisional statement in order to "inform the United Nations Climate Change conference taking place in Marrakech, Morocco."

Otherwise known as COP22, the summit has taken on added significance in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton last week.

In 2012, Trump tweeted that the concept of global warming "was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

Trump has also threatened to pull the U.S. out of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, which was agreed at last year's COP21 and came into force just this month.

Under the agreement, world leaders have agreed to make sure global warming stays "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and to "pursue efforts" to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.