Earth's temperature likely marks hottest decade on record - report

MADRID, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The past decade is almost certain to be the hottest on record, weather experts warned on Tuesday, painting a bleak picture of vanishing sea ice, devastating heatwaves and encroaching seas in a report launched at a climate summit in Spain.

An annual assessment of the Earth's climate by the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO) underscored the stakes at two weeks of talks aimed at shoring up the 2015 Paris Agreement to avert catastrophic global warming.

"Heatwaves and floods which used to be 'once-in-a-century' events are becoming more regular occurrences," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

"Countries ranging from the Bahamas to Japan to Mozambique suffered the effect of devastating tropical cyclones. Wildfires swept through the Arctic and Australia," he said.

Among the report's findings:

* Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and 10-year (2010-2019) periods are almost certain to be the highest on record.

* 2019 is on course to be the second- or third-warmest year on record.

* Sea water is 26 percent more acidic than at the start of the industrial era, degrading marine ecosystems.

* Arctic sea-ice neared record lows in September and October, and Antarctica also saw record low ice several times this year.

* Climate change is a key driver of a recent rise in global hunger after a decade of steady declines, with more than 820 million people suffering from hunger in 2018.

* Weather disasters displaced millions of people this year and affected rainfall patterns from India to northern Russia and the central United States, and many other regions.

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Jane Fonda and Ted Danson arrested during Climate Change Protest
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Jane Fonda and Ted Danson arrested during Climate Change Protest
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Jane Fonda and Ted Danson speak during "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police along with Ted Danson and other climate activists after blocking 1st Street in front of the Capitol on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The weekly Friday protest calls for action on the Green New Deal. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Ted Danson is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Jane Fonda speaks during "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Jane Fonda speaks during "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Ted Danson and Jane Fonda partecipate in "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Jane Fonda speaks during "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Ted Danson speaks during "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested for blocking a street in front of the U.S. Capitol during a “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, October 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Protesters are demanding urgent action on adapting the Green New Deal, clean, renewable energy, and an end to all new fossil fuel exploration and drilling. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested for blocking a street in front of the U.S. Capitol during a “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, October 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Protesters are demanding urgent action on adapting the Green New Deal, clean, renewable energy, and an end to all new fossil fuel exploration and drilling. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested for blocking a street in front of the U.S. Capitol during a “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, October 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Protesters are demanding urgent action on adapting the Green New Deal, clean, renewable energy, and an end to all new fossil fuel exploration and drilling. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actors Jane Fonda and Ted Danson are arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Ted Danson is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC . Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested for blocking a street in front of the U.S. Capitol during a “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, October 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Protesters are demanding urgent action on adapting the Green New Deal, clean, renewable energy, and an end to all new fossil fuel exploration and drilling. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Actress Jane Fonda participates in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, October 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Protesters are demanding urgent action on adapting the Green New Deal, clean, renewable energy, and an end to all new fossil fuel exploration and drilling. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Ted Danson partecipates in the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actor Ted Danson demonstrates during "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Actors Ted Danson and Jane Fonda demonstrate during "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on October 25, 2019 in Washington, DC .Protesters demand Immediate Action for a Green New Deal. Clean renewable energy by 2030, and no new exploration or drilling for Fossil Fuels. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: Actress Jane Fonda is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police along with Ted Danson and other climate activists after blocking 1st Street in front of the Capitol on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The weekly Friday protest calls for action on the Green New Deal. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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The report also noted that surges in sea temperatures known as "marine heatwaves" which devastate underwater life had become more common.

The report said the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. Opening the climate summit on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned that 400 parts per million had once been considered an "unthinkable" tipping point.

A drumbeat of dire reports from climate science in the past year has fueled environmental activism, prompted some companies to commit to slashing emissions and raised concerns among investors about the stability of asset prices.

Nevertheless, delegates in Madrid are facing an uphill battle to persuade major emitters to embrace the kind of radical change needed to shift the Earth's climate system on to a more habitable trajectory.

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