IT'S OFFICIAL - 2000-2010 HOTTEST DECADE EVER

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4 july 2013

Century’s first decade was hottest in 160 years

By Pilita Clark, Environment Correspondent, Financial Times, July 3, 2013

A total of 94 per cent of countries surveyed in the WMO report had their warmest decade in 2001-2010 and none reported a national average decadal temperature cooler than the long-term average

The first 10 years of this century were the hottest in 160 years and filled with more broken temperature records than any other decade as global warming continued to accelerate, the UN’s top weather agency has reported.

An “unprecedented” series of dramatic weather extremes also marked the years between 2001 to 2010, from hurricane Katrina in the US, to Russian heatwaves, Amazonian drought and Pakistani floods, said the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization.

The decade was the second wettest since 1901, as well, while 2010 alone was the wettest since instrumental records began.

“Rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are changing our climate, with far-reaching implications for our environment and our oceans, which are absorbing both carbon dioxide and heat,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Carbon dioxide, the main man-made greenhouse gas scientists say is warming the atmosphere to potentially dangerous levels, is emitted when fossil fuels such as coal or gas are burnt.

Concentrations of the gas reached a record 400 parts per million in May, the highest level in millions of years.

The WMO report also underlines the confusing nature of global temperature records.

Yearly temperatures have not risen as fast this century as they did in the 1990s, when they soared up to 1998, one of the hottest years on record and a period of an El Niño event – the naturally occurring warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean, as opposed to a cooling La Niña pattern.

That slowdown in temperature rises has led some climate change sceptics to claim global warming has stopped.

But when decade-long average temperatures are measured, as the WMO has done in this report, they show a sharp warming, from 14.26 centigrade in 1991-2000, to 14.47C in 2001-2010, a rise the agency said was unprecedented.

This has happened because temperatures have stayed high between 2001 and 2010, with every year of the decade except 2008 among the 10 warmest on record. 2010 itself was the warmest year ever, followed closely by 2005.

“A decade is the minimum possible timeframe for meaningful assessments of climate change,” said Mr Jarraud.

“Natural climate variability, caused in part by interactions between our atmosphere and oceans – as evidenced by El Niño and La Niña events – means that some years are cooler than others,” he added.

“On an annual basis, the global temperature curve is not a smooth one. On a long-term basis the underlying trend is clearly in an upward direction, more so in recent times.”

A total of 94 per cent of countries surveyed in the WMO report had their warmest decade in 2001-2010 and none reported a national average decadal temperature cooler than the long-term average.

In addition, some 44 per cent of countries reported their hottest ever nationwide temperature records in that decade, compared with 24 per cent in 1991-2000.

It was the opposite for coldest daily minimum temperature records, with the percentage of countries reporting those falling to 11 per cent in the 10 years to 2010 compared with nearly a third in the decade 1961-1970.


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