Historic Climate Change: 2014 On Pace to Be Warmest on Record

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Particularly high temperatures of the planet's oceans are on pace to make 2014 Earth's warmest year on record. If November and December maintain the year-to-date trend, this year will eclipse 1998, 2005 and 2010 as the warmest year.

The World Meteorological Organization—the United Nations weather agency—said this morning that, including this year, 14 of the 15 warmest years on record will have been in the 21st century.

"There is no standstill in global warming," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a statement. "What is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface."

Representatives from 190 nations are attending a 12-day UN climate meeting in Lima, Peru, this week—it's the last major gathering before 2015's Paris summit aimed at crafting a new treaty to cut carbon emissions and prevent global warming from rising more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The planet's ocean temperatures were particularly high in the northern hemisphere from June to October.

"Around 93 per cent of the excess energy trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and other human activities ends up in the oceans. Therefore, the heat content of the oceans is key to understanding the climate system," the WMO said.