BALI: This year is set to be one of the warmest on record and the decade of 1998 to 2007 is to be the hottest ever documented, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
With 18 days left in the year, 2007 is on track for being the seventh warmest year since record keeping began, the agency said, adding that the year had also been characterised by brutal and exceptional weather events.
In the northern hemisphere, 2007 is poised to the second-warmest year, while the average annual temperatures in the southern hemisphere have been the ninth warmest, it said.
The WMO – one of the parent organisations of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – said its preliminary report on the world’s weather for 2007 strengthened the evidence for man-made global warming.
“What we are seeing is a confirmation of the warming trend seen by the IPCC reports,” WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud said as he presented the document, which is based on data collected by national weather stations and research institutions.
The report was published as negotiators on the Indonesian resort island of Bali struggled over a deal that would launch two years of negotiations leading to a new global pact for tackling the greenhouse-gas crisis.
Since the start of the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74 °C, but the increase has not been smooth and continuous, the WMO noted: “The linear warming trend over the last 50 years, of 0.13 °C per decade, is nearly twice that for the last 100 years,” it said.
The report’s final version will be published in March 2008 in the WMO’s annual brochure on the status of the global climate.
The report highlights include:
- The 11 warmest years ever recorded have all occurred in the past 13 years. January 2007 was the warmest January in the global average temperature on record.
- Parts of Europe had the warmest spring ever recorded, with temperatures that were more than 4 °C above the long-term monthly averages. Two extreme heatwaves gripped Southeastern Europe in June and July, busting previous records with daily peaks of more than 40 °C in some locations.
- Severe droughts gripped large parts of the western U.S. and upper Midwest and in Australia, while China experienced its worst water scarcity in a decade, with nearly 40 million hectares of land drought-affected.
- Heavy flooding hit many African countries, as well as Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, southern China and Indonesia. England and Wales recorded their wettest May to July period since records began in 1766, suffering damages of more than six billion US dollars.
- It was a devastating year for cyclones. In November, cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh, affecting more than 8.5 million people and killing over 3,000, and damaging or destroying nearly 1.5 million houses. In June cyclone Gonu made landfall in Oman, affecting more than 20,000 people and killing 50, before reaching Iran. “There is no record of a tropical cyclone hitting Iran since 1945,” said the WMO.
- Arctic sea ice shrank dramatically. In September, at the end of the summer ice-melt season, only 4.28 million square km2 of the Arctic Ocean was covered by ice, the lowest on record, and 39 per cent below the long-term average. For five weeks between August and September, nearly 100 voyages were made through the Canadian Northwest Passage, the first time in documented history that this legendary trans-Arctic link between the Pacific and Europe had been opened to navigation.