WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The earth is on track for its warmest year on record after October temperatures equaled the third-warmest for the month ever, a U.S. government agency said on Thursday.
October globally was 1.31 Fahrenheit (0.73 Celsius) above the 20th century average of 57.1 F (13.9 C) and tying it with 2003 as the third-warmest October on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement.
For the year through October, the average global temperature was 1.75 F (0.97 C) above average, topping the record set in 2015 by 0.18 F (0.1 C).
"With only two months left in the year, the globe remains on track to be one of the warmest years, if not the warmest, in the 122-year record," the agency said.
It said temperatures had begun to fall because of the La Nina weather pattern. It is characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Among standouts last month, Alaska and Finland had the driest Octobers on record. Africa also notched the second-warmest October, behind the record set in 2015.
The U.S. weather agency's report comes as negotiators meet in Morocco to hammer out the fine points of the historic 2015 Paris accord aimed at staving off climate change.
Almost 200 nations reaffirmed support for the deal on Thursday. The talks which have been overshadowed by worries that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, would pull out of the accord.
NOAA said the average Arctic sea ice area for October was 28.5 percent below the 1981–2010 average, the smallest extent of ice for the month since records began in 1979.
The world's averaged sea surface temperature was the second warmest on record for October, and the warmest on record for the year to date, according to the NOAA.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Alan Crosby)