May 3, 2013
UN Weather Report Points To Disturbing Signs Of Global Climate Change
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The United Nations´ official weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization,“¯has announced that last year saw record-low levels of Arctic sea ice — yet another troubling sign of changing global climate patterns.
The WMO also found that 2012 was the ninth-warmest year since official records started in the 1850s, according to a report released by the organization on Thursday. It also stated that every year from 2001 to 2012 was among the top 13 warmest on record, with the hottest being 2010.
WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud called the findings a "disturbing sign of climate change."
"The year 2012 saw many other extremes as well, such as droughts and tropical cyclones," he said. “Natural climate variability has always resulted in such extremes, but the physical characteristics of extreme weather and climate events are being increasingly shaped by climate change.”
"For example, because global sea levels are now about 20 centimeters higher than they were in 1880, storms such as Hurricane Sandy are bringing more coastal flooding than they would have otherwise," he added.
In October, Hurricane Sandy killed almost 300 people and caused massive devastation in the Caribbean alone. It would eventually cause billions of dollars in damage as well as about 130 deaths along the East Coast of the United States.
In the report, Jarraud noted that unpredictable factors such as the El Nino and La Nina Pacific weather patterns or volcanic eruptions also play a role in global temperatures. However, last year´s warm temperatures came despite a cool La Nina at the beginning of the year.
"The sustained warming of the lower atmosphere is a worrisome sign," Jarraud said. "The continued upward trend in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and the consequent increased radiative forcing of the Earth's atmosphere confirm that the warming will continue.”
Higher than average temperatures were seen across vast stretches of the planet in 2012, from parts of North America to western Russia to regions of northern Africa, according to the report. Cooler than average temperatures were recorded in some areas, including Alaska, parts of northern Australia, and central Asia.
The WMO also noted the drought conditions that were well-reported across much of the central United States. Northern Mexico, central Russia, and south-central Australia also saw below average precipitation levels. Meanwhile, Northern Europe, western Africa, western Alaska, and most of northern China were wetter than usual.
In his conclusion, Jarraud suggested that countries around the world continue studying global climate and work to reduce the effects of human activity.
“It is vital that we continue to invest in the observations and research that will improve our knowledge about climate variability and climate change,” he said. “We need to better understand how much of the extra heat captured by greenhouse gases is being stored in the oceans and the consequences this brings in terms of ocean acidification and other impacts.”
“We also need a better understanding of the changing behaviour of extreme weather and climate events as a consequence of global warming, and we need to assist countries in the most affected areas to better manage climate-related risks with improved climate early warning and climate watch systems,” he added.