A state­ment by the Geneva-​based World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued on March 21 ahead of World Meteorological Day con­firmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record.

We are now in truly uncharted ter­ri­tory.- David Carlson, World Climate Research

The WMO press release announced the pub­li­ca­tion of its annual Statement on the State of the Global Climate which revealed that 2016 expe­ri­enced a record tem­per­a­ture that was 1.1 °C above the pre-​industrial period. This rep­re­sents an increase of 0.06 °C above the pre­vi­ous record set in the year 2015.

This increase in global warm­ing is attrib­uted to the El Niño effect which causes extreme weather fluc­tu­a­tions, and increas­ing green­house gas emis­sions. The WMO’s annual state­ment also revealed that car­bon diox­ide emis­sions reached record lev­els in 2016 (at 400.0 ± 0.1 parts per mil­lion in the atmos­phere), while global sea ice caps have melted more than expected and sea lev­els risen as a result.

2016 also saw an increase in sea tem­per­a­tures and envi­ron­men­tal crises like drought, espe­cially in south­ern and east­ern Africa and parts of Central America, and severe floods in east­ern and south­ern Asia.

The report also notes that the first few months of 2017 have been char­ac­ter­ized by “extreme weather and cli­mate con­di­tions” in some parts of the world.

“Even with­out a strong El Niño in 2017, we are see­ing other remark­able changes across the planet that are chal­leng­ing the lim­its of our under­stand­ing of the cli­mate sys­tem. We are now in truly uncharted ter­ri­tory,” David Carlson, pro­gram direc­tor of World Climate Research is quoted as say­ing in the press release.

The report lists a few exam­ples of recent extreme weather con­di­tions, like warmer than usual tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the first few months of 2017 in the US and Canada: In February 2017, 11,743 warm tem­per­a­ture records in the US were bro­ken or tied.

Meanwhile, parts of the Arabian penin­sula and North Africa were hit with unsea­son­ably cold tem­per­a­tures, while parts of Australia expe­ri­enced pro­longed heat waves and record tem­per­a­tures in January and February.

The WMO’s data is com­piled based on inter­na­tional datasets pro­vided by sev­eral global cli­mate analy­sis cen­ters, and their annual state­ment includes infor­ma­tion pro­vided by sev­eral UN agen­cies and inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions on the social and eco­nomic impacts of cli­mate change.

Bad weather and drought sit­u­a­tions in the spring and sum­mer of 2016 have been blamed for the poor olive har­vests in Spain, Italy, Greece and France, result­ing in a sharp drop in over­all world olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Though the olive tree is a hardy plant that can with­stand harsh con­di­tions, it is not immune to adverse weather and sud­den cli­matic changes. But accord­ing to some experts, global warm­ing can be a bless­ing in dis­guise for olive cul­ti­va­tion because it can anni­hi­late the olive fly, while oth­ers main­tain that snow and cold can also reduce the inci­dence of olive fly infes­ta­tions and help pro­duc­tion as a result.

Following a short spell of cold weather and snow in some parts of Europe in early 2017 and an early onset of spring, it’s too early to pre­dict if this will present a set­back for the 2017/​2018 olive sea­son, and whether other adverse weather con­di­tions are to be expected.


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