Sunday, December 16, 2007

Last decade the hottest ever recorded

Earthtimes: The decade of 1998-2007 has been the hottest ever recorded, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Director General Michel Jarraud said here Thursday, the penultimate day of the UN conference on climate change. Delivering yet another warning from climate scientists to the nearly 11,000 delegates from 187 who have gathered here for the Bali summit during Dec 3-14 in an effort to fight global warming, Jarraud said that last seven years have been among the eight warmest on record.

The extent of arctic sea ice this year was also the lowest at 4.2 million sq km, he said. 'For the first time in history, the Canadian north-west passage was open this year. That is not unusual. That is exceptional.' Jarraud referred to Cyclone Sidr that killed over 3,000 people in Bangladesh last month and the first cyclone to hit Oman and Iran since 1945 to make the point that extreme weather events were becoming more frequent, one of the effects of global warming predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

There were many more extreme weather events in 2007 he listed: drought in Australia, the US and China; extreme heat wave in south-east Europe, with a 45 degree Celsius temperature in Bulgaria setting a record; heat waves in southern US; very cold winters in Argentina and Chile; floods in Africa, South and middle America, Indonesia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal; the wettest year in Britain since 1776.

Jarraud said global atmospheric temperature had increased by 0.75 degrees Celsius between 1900 and 2007, 'the fastest rise in at least 1,000 years. Remember that the temperature difference between the Ice Age and today is only six degrees Celsius.'

WMO scientists had found the current concentration of carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas that leads to global warming - in the atmosphere was the highest in 650,000 years, Jarraud said. 'They found the proof by drilling through ice cores in the Antarctic.' Asked what would be his message to the delegates gathered here for the Bali summit, he said climate change was already here, and measures to prevent disasters and be ready for them must be a part of any adaptation strategies.…

Another British climate scientist, Phil Jones, director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia, said: 'The year began with a weak El Nino - the warmer relation of La Nina - and global temperatures well above the long-term average. However, since the end of April the La Nina event has taken some of the heat out of what could have been an even warmer year.'

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