January 9, 2009

While the World Gets Warmer, Europe Gets Colder

On Friday, the United Nation's Weather agency WMO said that it might feel cold in Europe, but the world is getting hotter and global warming remains a danger.

"The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Michel Jarraud, has stressed that we mustn't confuse the current weather that we're seeing with global warming," WMO spokeswoman Gaelle Sevenier told a news briefing.

On Thursday, temperatures plunged to a record low in Germany and heavy snow plummeted down on Marseille in southern France.  Switzerland had temperatures below 0 Celsius for the eighth day in a row.

Since 1850, weather studies show an undeniable increase in temperature, Sevenier said.

"Mr. Jarraud noted that there can be no doubt that the trend is still toward warming and that the temperature of the surface of the earth has risen by three quarters of a degree since the mid-19th century," she said.

Records show that 2008 was the 10th warmest year since records started being kept.

Sevenier said the cold snap in Europe was due to the "La Nina" phenomenon, in which surface water in parts of the Pacific Ocean is cooler than usual, through complex meteorological processes that can influence weather over the Atlantic Ocean.

La Nina alternates with "El Nino," where water is warmer than usual.  Both can affect weather around the world.


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