GENEVA, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The year 2016 made history, with a record global temperature, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to an annual statement issued on Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
WMO issued its annual statement on the State of the Global Climate ahead of World Meteorological Day on 23 March.
According to the statement, the powerful 2015/2016 El Nino event boosted warming in 2016, on top of long-term climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Global sea levels rose very strongly during the El Nino event, with the early 2016 values reaching new record highs.
"The year 2016 was the warmest on record -- a remarkable 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, which is 0.06 degrees Celsius above the previous record set in 2015. This increase in global temperature is consistent with other changes occurring in the climate system," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
"Globally averaged sea surface temperatures were also the warmest on record, global sea levels continued to rise, and Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average for most of the year," he said.
Global sea levels rose very strongly during the 2015/2016 El Nino, rising about 15 millimeters between November 2014 to a new record high in February 2016. This was well above the post-1993 trend of 3 to 3.5 mm per year.
In terms of Arctic sea ice, the seasonal maximum, of 14.52 million square kilometers on 24 March, was the lowest in the 1979-2016 satellite record. The 2016 autumn freeze-up was exceptionally slow -- with sea ice extent even contracting for a few days in mid-November.
WMO warned extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.
"Even without a strong El Nino in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory," said World Climate Research Program Director David Carlson.