OSLO • World temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row last year, creeping closer to a ceiling set by the Paris climate change deal, with unprecedented heat in India and ice melt in the Arctic.
The findings, providing new signs of the impact of greenhouse gases, were issued on Wednesday, two days before the inauguration of United States President-elect Donald Trump, who questions whether climate change has a human cause.
Average global surface temperatures last year were 0.83 deg C above a long-term average of 14 deg C from 1961 to 1990, according to the United Nations-affiliated World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
Temperatures, lifted mainly by man-made greenhouse gases and partly by a natural El Nino weather event, beat the 2015 record, which in turn eclipsed 2014.
"We don't expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear," said Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of US space agency Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
The WMO data was based on records compiled by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Britain's Met Office. Global temperature records date back to the 1880s.
At a summit in Paris in late 2015, governments agreed on a plan to phase out fossil fuels and shift to renewable energies such as wind and solar power. They agreed to limit warming to "well below" 2 deg C above pre-industrial times, while pursuing efforts for a 1.5 deg C limit.
The WMO said temperatures last year were 1.1 deg C above pre-industrial times.