December 8, 2009

WMO: Last 10 Years Warmest Temps On Record

The head of the World Meteorological Organization said at the UN climate talks Tuesday that the first decade of the 21st century is set to be the warmest on record.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told journalists that the decade 2000-2009 is very likely to be the warmest on record, warmer than the 1990s, which were in turn warmer than the 1980s.

The year 2009 would also likely rank as the fifth warmest since 1850, the beginning of accurate instrumental climate records, Jarraud added.

Some 193 countries are meeting from December 7-18 at the climate summit in Copenhagen in an effort to work out a climate deal to curb global warming and help poor countries cope with its consequences.

When asked whether temperatures would continue to rise in the near term, Jarraud said they were definitely in a warming trend, but he would not make predictions for next year.

He pointed out that unexpected events such as a major volcano spewing tons of heat-filtering debris could lower temperatures.

Meanwhile, the UN weather organization found climate extremes -- including devastating floods, severe droughts, snowstorms, heatwaves and cold snaps -- were registered in many parts of the world.

North America, which experienced conditions slightly cooler than the 1961-1990 benchmark average, was the only continent that didn't record above-normal temperatures.

The WMO reported that there were otherwise marked regional variations and extreme warm events were more frequent and intense in the southern part of Australia, southern Asia and South America.

After a record year in 2007 and a runner-up year in 2008, the Arctic sea ice extent during the melt season was the third lowest ever.

But for some regions, 2009 was the warmest ever.

China reported the third-warmest year since 1951.The country suffered its worst drought in five decades, with water levels in parts of the Gan and Xiangjiang Rivers the lowest in 50 years.

The WHO reported less-than-average rainfall during the monsoon season caused severe droughts in 40 percent of districts in India.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicts that average global temperatures will rise by up to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced, confirmed most of these global warming trends.

The WMO's global temperature analysis is based on three data sets, one of them coming from the Climate Research Unit of University of East Anglia in Britain, which has been the focus of intense scrutiny in recent weeks after email exchanges among its scientists were stolen and posted on the Internet.

Several comments contained in the e-mails led to allegations that data was manipulated to exaggerate the threat of global warming.


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