The last 10 years were the hottest since modern measurements began, according to the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
A new report says the years between 2001 to 2010 was a period of unprecedented extremes. Global warming has continued to accelerate, as more temperature records were broken than in any previous decade, in both hemispheres.
There was also record-breaking decline in Arctic sea ice in 2010, alongside the quickening loss of ice sheets and glaciers from Greenland and the Antarctic.
The report also analyses dramatic events such as the European heatwave of 2003, hurricane Katrina, droughts in the Amazon, Australia and east Africa and floods in Pakistan.
The WMO says that it is not yet possible to know whether such individual occurrences are caused by climate change. However, its report says that scientists “increasingly conclude that many recent events would have occurred in a different way – or would not have occurred at all – in the absence of climate change.”
The report suggests that human emissions are a contributing factor.
“Human-caused climate change is trending in just one direction”, it says.
“This is because atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing steadily, due to human activities.
“This changing composition of the atmosphere is causing the global average temperature to rise, which, in turn, exerts a significant influence on the hydrological cycle and leads to other changes in climate and weather patterns.”
This report comes just days after the UK’s climate and energy security envoy Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti labelled climate change as one of the greatest global trade and security risks we face this century.