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2015 set to be hottest year on record, WMO says

UN weather body says effects from El Niño could make 2016 even worse

This year is shaping up to be the hottest on record, and 2016 could be even hotter due to the El Niño weather pattern, the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Wednesday, days before a climate summit opens in Paris.

Based on data for the first 10 months of the year, “We feel very confident ... that 2015 will be the warmest year on record,” said Michel Jarraud, head of the WMO.

The WMO said land and sea temperatures were likely to surpass those of 2014 as the highest since record-keeping began.

“This is all bad news for the planet,” Jarraud told reporters in Geneva.

The U.N. agency usually waits to have a full year's worth of data before drawing such conclusions but said it wanted its preliminary findings "to inform negotiators at the U.N. Climate Change Conference."

Decisions taken at a summit of world leaders in Paris starting on Monday could keep global temperature rises within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, a target set in 2010 to try to prevent climate change. 

“Greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing climate change, can be controlled. We have the knowledge and the tools to act. We have a choice. Future generations will not,” Jarraud said. 

The results of the report were widely expected. Scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and elsewhere had previously said that 2015 likely would set another record for hottest temperatures. According to the U.N. agency, NOAA, NASA and Japan's weather agency, 2014 is the current record hot year, with a global temperature of 14.57 degrees Celsius, or 58.23 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I would call it certain,” NOAA's chief climate monitor, Deke Arndt, said on Tuesday. “Something game-changing massive would have to happen for it not to be a record.”

Records go back to 1880.

Jarraud also said it is likely that the world has now warmed by 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, over pre-industrial times. 

The world is warming because of heat-trapping gases that come from the burning of coal, oil and gas. On top of that, El Nino, a naturally occurring climate event that starts with warm water in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, makes the world even warmer, scientists say.

Jarraud said El Niño may be responsible for 16 to 20 percent of the rise, and longer-term averages show temperatures are rising regardless of El Niño or its cooling counterpart La Niña.

El Niño, a naturally occurring weather pattern marked by warming sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, causes extremes such as scorching weather, droughts and flooding around the world. Meteorologists expect El Niño to peak between October and January and to be one of the strongest on record. 

Al Jazeera and wire services 

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