World temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row in 2016 with extremes including unprecedented heat in India and ice melt in the Arctic, scientists said on Wednesday.
Average global surface temperatures last year were 0.83 degree Celsius (1.5 Fahrenheit) above a long-term average of 14 degrees Celsius (57.2F) from 1961-1990, according to the data released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Temperatures were lifted mainly by man-made greenhouse gases and partly by a natural El Nino weather event that released heat from the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists said temperatures are unlikely to set a new record this year after the fading of El Nino. But heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels, especially from China and the United States, will keep building up in the atmosphere.
At a summit in France’s capital Paris in 2015, nearly 200 nations agreed a plan to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times.
But scientists say they are concerned that political support for climate action might fade away after President-elect Donald Trump’s administration takes office in the United States.
The US is the second-largest greenhouse emitter in the world after China.
Trump has described climate change as a hoax. He has threatened to cancel the Paris Agreement and shift to exploiting cheap domestic coal, oil and gas.
Trump’s choice to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent mixed messages about climate change during a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt expressed doubt about the science behind the global consensus on climate change. But he added he would be obliged for now to uphold the EPA’s finding that carbon dioxide poses a public danger.