GENEVA - Weather scientists said May was the warmest month on record worldwide, with one observing station reporting carbon dioxide levels hitting a record high.
The World Meteorological Organization warned that will have a major impact on biodiversity and nature as well as on people's socioeconomic development and well-being.
Pandemic won't affect climate
At the same time, lockdowns due to the COVID-19 virus have led to improvements in air quality and cleaner skies in many places. But WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said scientists agree the effects are temporary and the pandemic will not affect climate change in the long term.
"The industrial and economic slowdown from COVID 19 is not a substitute for sustained and coordinated climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Nullis said. "Unfortunately carbon dioxide concentrations measured at the Mauna Loa observing station in Hawaii reached a new record in May."
The WMO noted the atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at the observatory is a seasonal peak, not a global average. Nevertheless, it said that is indicative of the continuing increase in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.
As a consequence of rising concentrations of CO2, Nullis said, temperatures are rising, with records set throughout the world in May.
"The most above average temperatures were recorded over parts of Siberia where they were up to 10 degrees Celsius above average," Nullis said. "That is absolutely huge. It is breathtaking. It shattered records."
Records in Alaska, Antarctica
Nullis said temperature records also were shattered in Alaska and Antarctica.
The WMO reported more than 90% of the excess energy from increased concentrations of greenhouse gases goes into the ocean. It said ocean heat is at record levels and sea level increases continue unabated.
Scientists see deoxygenation alongside ocean warming and acidification as a major threat to ocean ecosystems and the well-being of people that depend on marine life.