WMO: 2015 to be hottest year on record -- until next year

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October Heat Confirms Hottest Year on Record

This year will be the hottest on record and 2016 could be even hotter due to the El Niño weather pattern, the World Meteorological Organization said on Wednesday, warning that inaction on climate change could see global average temperatures rise by 6 degrees Celsius or more.

SEE MORE: With record-breaking September, 2015 continues pace as warmest year on record

WMO director-general Michel Jarraud said it was still possible for a global climate summit starting in Paris on Monday to agree steps to could keep the rise within 2C (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times, a target set down in 2010 to try to prevent a dramatic increase in extreme weather.

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WMO: 2015 to be hottest year on record -- until next year
NOAA has released an update to its El Niño advisory. This image shows the satellite sea surface temperature departure for the month of October 2015, where orange-red colors are above normal temperatures and are indicative of El Niño. This event is forecast to continue through the winter, likely ranking as one of the top 3 strongest events since 1950, before fading in late spring or early summer. El Niño has already produced significant global impacts, and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months. Seasonal outlooks generally favor below-average temperatures and above-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation over the northern tier of the United States. (Photo via NOAA)
MAKASSAR, SOUTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Two girls are seen walk behind of dried up ricefield at Manggara Bombang village, Maros district on September 21, 2015 in Makassar, Indonesia. Indonesia's national disaster management agency has declared that the majority of the country's 34 provinces are experiencing drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, the worst drought in the past five years. The dry season forces villagers to walk long distances to find clean water. (Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)
NOAA issued an update to the El Niño analysis on September 10, 2015, in which forecasters from the Climate Predication Center say a strong El Niño is in place and likely to peak in late fall/early winter, and gradually weaken through spring 2016. This image shows the satellite-based average sea surface temperature data from the week of August 31 - September 6, 2015. Blue areas are cooler than the 1981-2010 average; red areas are warmer than that historical base period. The large pool of warmer than average temperatures along the equatorial Pacific is indicative of the El Niño conditions. (Photo via NOAA)
Sea surface temperature anomalies in November 1997 (left) compared to July 2015 (right). (Photo via NOAA)
A couple tries to cool off from the heat caused by El Nino with water overflowing from a defunct but still watery reservoir called the Wawa dam in Montalban in Rizal, east of Manila on February 21, 2010. El Niño was expected to dehydrate the Metro Manila area over in the next two months, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). Earlier this month the government warned a possible drought caused by the El Nino weather system could slash Philippines rice yields this year. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Tons of dead fish are seen on the banks of the Solimoes River due the water's low level, November 25, 2009 near Manaquiri, 120Km from Manaus. The dry season, affected by the weather phenomenon EL Nino, is worse this year. According a study from Brazil's universities USP,UNICAMP,UFRJ and Embrapa, the country could lose some USD 3.6 billion over the next 40 years. AFP PHOTO / ANTONIO SCORZA (Photo credit should read ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Heavy clouds covers Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta on November 29, 2009. The month of November ends the dry season and starts the wet period but the weather bureau anticipates El Nino's dry spell to affect Indonesian weather. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
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"But the more we wait for action, the more difficult it will be," he told a news conference.

"You have scenarios assuming very strong decisions, very quick and sharp reduction of greenhouse gases, and you have other scenarios with business as usual, where you end up with predictions of additional warming of 5, 6 degrees, maybe even more. That will very much depend on the decisions (in Paris)."

Jarraud said there was no "silver bullet" to stop climate change. As well as a strong deal in Paris, it needed citizens to choose public transport over cars and insulate their homes, and industry to tackle sources of greenhouse gas emissions such as power stations, transport, cement, farming and fertilisers.

SEE MORE: NASA expert: El Niño is 'too big to fail'

Jarraud rejected climate sceptics' arguments that the science underlying predictions of man-made climate change was flawed.

"It's not about believing or not," he said. "It's a matter of seeing the facts. The facts are there."

Paul Williams, climate scientist at the University of Reading, agreed: "All the thermometer readings, satellite observations, tree rings, ice cores and sea-level records would have to be wrong."

"SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE"

Global average surface temperatures in 2015 are likely to reach what the WMO called the "symbolic and significant milestone" of 1.0C above the pre-industrial 1880-1899 era, and around 0.73C above the 1961-1990 average.

Jarraud said 16-20 percent of the 2015 rise may be due to El Niño, a natural weather pattern marked by warming sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. The current El Niño is one of the strongest on record.

SEE MORE:FEMA: El Niño will flood California

But five-year averages showed temperatures were rising regardless of El Niño or its cooling counterpart La Niña, with eight of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005.

The years 2011-2015 have been the hottest five-year period on record, with temperatures about 0.57C (1.01F) above the 1961-1990 reference period.

"This is all bad news for the planet," Jarraud said.

Global ocean temperatures were unprecedented during the period, and several land areas, including the continental United States, Australia, Europe, South America and Russia, broke temperature records by large margins.

Next year may be even warmer; levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to a new record every year for the past 30 years, and El Niño is likely to continue into 2016.

"The year whose annual mean temperature is likely to be most strongly influenced by the current El Niño is 2016 rather than 2015," the WMO said.

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