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April Temperatures Break Previous Monthly Heat Records

  • Lisa Schlein

People cool themselves off during a heat wave in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, May 19, 2016.

People cool themselves off during a heat wave in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, May 19, 2016.

The World Meteorological Organization reports that in April, a new monthly record was set for high temperatures on land and the ocean, indicating that global warming may be happening at a faster pace than previously predicted.

The WMO has issued a number of alarming reports on the state of the climate in recent days. The report on record-setting temperatures indicates April marked the 12th month in a row in which temperature records have been broken.

Spokeswoman Clare Nullis says this is the longest such streak in 137 years in which records have been shattered.

“What is particularly concerning is the margin in which these records are being broken...They are being smashed and on a fairly consistent basis,” said Nullis.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, reports the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April was 1.10 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average.

Nullis says this is a very big margin and explains the warmth in Arctic areas over large parts of Russia.

“The heat that we saw in 2015 - hit the headlines at the time - we were alarmed about it. The heat that we are seeing in 2016 - it makes 2015 pale by comparison,” said Nullis.

FILE - Rain drops bead on a car window below the Golden Gate Bridge, Jan. 5, 2016, in Sausalito, Calif. El Nino storms lined up in the Pacific, promising to drench parts of the West for more than two weeks.

FILE - Rain drops bead on a car window below the Golden Gate Bridge, Jan. 5, 2016, in Sausalito, Calif. El Nino storms lined up in the Pacific, promising to drench parts of the West for more than two weeks.

A major factor contributing to scorching temperatures around the world was the powerful El Nino weather phenomenon. WMO reports El Nino, which triggers severe drought, heavy rains and other extreme weather conditions, is fading rapidly and probably will give way later in the year to La Nina, which has a cooling influence.

WMO’s Clare Nullis, however, cautions against raising hopes that El Nino’s departure will result in a better turnaround anytime soon.

“The impacts of El Nino and particularly the drought, they will carry on for many months,” said Nullis. "So, for instance, southern Africa is particularly badly affected by drought and their main rainy season is not going to come now for a number of months. So, what the humanitarian agencies call the lean season in southern Africa will be very, very lean.”

The WMO says the main driving force behind unprecedented warmth is global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. The agency is urging the rapid implementation of the Paris Climate Change agreement to head off the worst.

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