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2020 is set to be one of three hottest years on record

This year is on track to be the second hottest on record, behind 2016, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday, said Reuters.

Five data sets currently place 2020, a year characterised by heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and raging hurricanes, as the second warmest since records began in 1850. 

Stoked by extreme heat, wildfires flared across Australia, Siberia and the United States this year, sending smoke plumes around the globe.

The latest WMO report said the global mean temperature was around 1.2 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 baseline between January and October this year, placing it second behind 2016 and marginally ahead of 2019.

Hot years have typically been associated with El Niño, a natural event that releases heat from the Pacific Ocean. However, this year coincides with La Niña which has the opposite effect and cools temperatures. The WMO will confirm the data in March 2021.

A climate pact agreed in Paris five years ago compels countries to make efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, above which scientists warn of catastrophic climate change. 

While it is not the same as crossing that long-term warming threshold, the WMO says there is at least a one in five chance of temperatures temporarily, on an annual basis, exceeding that level by 2024. 

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