2013 is seventh hottest year on record

WARSAW - This year is the seventh warmest since records began in 1850 and rising sea levels caused by climate change are aggravating the impact of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, said the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

More greenhouse gases in the atmosphere meant a warmer future, and more extreme weather, was inevitable, WMO Secretary- General Michel Jarraud said in a statement during climate talks among almost 200 nations in Warsaw.

The WMO said the first nine months of the year tied with the same period of 2003 as seventh warmest, with average global land and ocean-surface temperatures 0.48 deg C above the 1961-1990 average.

"This year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend" towards higher temperatures caused by global warming that are causing more heatwaves and downpours, Mr Jarraud said.

The WMO said it was likely to end among the top-10 warmest years since records began in 1850.

Extreme events include super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most intense in history that smashed into the Philippines last Friday, it said. However, the WMO said that it was impossible to blame climate change for individual storms.

"The jury is still out on whether tropical cyclones will become more frequent in the future," Mr Jeremiah Lengoasa, Deputy WMO Secretary-General, told a news conference.

He pointed to wide uncertainties about how they form.

But sea-level rise, caused by melting ice and an expansion of water as it warms, is worsening storm surges and had been especially rapid in the western Pacific Ocean, driven by local changes in winds and sea currents.

One tidal gauge at Legaspi in the Philippines showed a rise of 35cm in average sea levels from 1950-2010, against a global average of 10cm, WMO data showed.

President Benigno Aquino said the death toll from the recent typhoon and flooding was closer to 2,000 or 2,500 than the previously reported figure of 10,000.

Other extremes this year have included record heatwaves in Australia and floods from Sudan to Europe, the WMO said.

Japan had its warmest summer on record.

Apparently bucking a warming trend, sea ice around Antarctica expanded to a record extent.

But the WMO said: "Wind patterns and ocean currents tend to isolate Antarctica from global weather patterns, keeping it cold."

The WMO said 2010 was the warmest year on record, ahead of 2005 and 1998.