Despite La Nina arriving at the end of the year—which bring cooler than average conditions—and bitter cold showing up recently in the Northern Hemisphere due to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), 2010 was smoldering enough worldwide that it will very likely be among the top three hottest years since record-keeping began 160 years ago, reports the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today.
So far, 2010 has been 0.54-0.58 degrees Celsius (0.97-1 degree Fahrenheit) above the global average of 1961-1990. During the last year, 19 countries saw heat record matched or broken; Russia experienced an unprecedented heatwave that sparked drought and fires; drought struck the Amazon drying up entire rivers; and although parts of Europe and the US have been experiencing cooler than average winters due to the NAO and La Nina, Canada has seen its warmest winter yet to date.
Director General of the WMO, Michael Jarraud, told the Guardian that this was more evidence of climate change.
“These are the facts. If nothing is done the [warming] curve will go up and up and up. If we continue this trend the heatwave in Europe in 2003 will not be exceptional. It will be on the cool side. This is what will happen,” Jarraud said.
Scientists have been warning for decades that the world is undergoing warming due to greenhouse gas emissions from human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
“Year-to-year variability is dominated by features such as the NAO and El Nino,” Phil Jones with the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) told the BBC. “But if you want to look at the underlying trend, you need to look at the decadal timescale, and that’s when you detect the anthropogenic influence.”
The most recent decade, 2000-2009, was also the warmest on record.
Researchers say they expect 2011 to be cooler as La Nina conditions remain. La Nina, the opposite of El Nino, brings cold water to the surface of the Pacific, lowering temperatures globally. Even so, the Met Office says next year could still be among the top 10 warmest years. Last year, the Met Office predicted, it would seem correctly, that 2010 would be among the warmest years on record.
Government officials are currently meeting in at the last UN Climate Summit to attempt to come up with an agreement to mitigate global climate change, however expectations for success at the meeting are low.
(11/30/2010) Extreme weather events linked to climate change has caused the deaths of 21,000 people worldwide in the first nine months of 2010, according to Oxfam. This is already twice the casualties of 2009. In a new report More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, the organization outlines the casualties of such weather-related disasters, for example devastating floods in Pakistan which killed 2,000 people and affected more than 20 million.
(11/23/2010) To date, nineteen nations have hit or matched record high temperatures this year, according to Jeff Master’s Wunder Blog, making 2010 the only year to have so many national records. In contrast, no nation this year has hit a record cold temperature.
(08/09/2010) The summer isn’t over yet, but already seventeen nations have matched or beaten their all-time heat records. According to Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog, Belarus, the Ukraine, Cyprus, Russia, Finland, Qatar, the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Niger, Chad, Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Ascension Island, and the Solomon Islands have all equaled or broken their top temperature records this year. In addition, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia was taken in Pakistan at 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53 degrees Celsius); this incredible temperature still has to be reviewed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).