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Centuries of warming locked into earth’s climate warns UN

NEWS: World Meteorological Organization says countries must become more resilient to extreme weather

Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines on 7 November 2013 (Pic: NASA)

Typhoon Haiyan, a tropical storm which displaced millions, approaching the Philippines on 7 November 2013 (Pic: NASA)

By Ed King

Record temperatures, heavy monsoon rains and rising sea levels are all signs the climate is changing, says the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.

Its 2013 State of the Climate report, published annually, says last year tied with 2007 as the sixth warmest on record, continuing what it says is a “long term warming trend”. 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred since the year 2000, it adds.

In a statement WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said record levels of greenhouse gases would mean the atmosphere and oceans will warm for centuries to come.

“There is no standstill in global warming,” he said, referring to a 15-year hiatus in land temperatures. “The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths.

“More than 90% of excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans,” he said, adding: “the laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

The WMO says the global average surface temperature was 0.5C ± 0.1C above the 1961–1990 average and 0.03C above the 2001–2010 average.

Global land air surface and sea surface temperature anomalies  (°C) for 2013, relative to  1961–1990 (Pic: WMO)

Global land air surface and sea surface temperature anomalies
(°C) for 2013, relative to 1961–1990 (Pic: WMO)

In the past 12 months Australia experienced its hottest year on record, with Argentina registering its second warmest.

A study by scientists at the University of Melbourne cited by the WMO by concluded Australia’s record summer was five times as likely as a result of man made climate change.

Annual (1 January–  31 December) average  temperature deciles  map for Australia for the period 1910–2013  (Pic: WMO)

Annual (1 January–31 December) average temperature deciles map for Australia for the period 1910–2013 (Pic: WMO)

Jarraud said the surge in storms also demonstrates the need for further investment in forecasting systems and better resilience to further reduce losses of life.

“We must continue to strengthen preparedness and early warning systems and implement a multi-hazard approach to disaster risk reduction,” he said.

This week UN scientists working on the next instalment of the IPCC’s climate science review meet in Yokohoma, Japan to discuss the scale of future impacts from climate change.

Leaks online indicate the report will warn of ever more dangerous impacts without rapid action to curb carbon emissions, including extreme weather, sea level rise and species extinctions.

“Risks to the overall global economy and Earth’s biodiversity become moderate for warming between 1-2 degrees Celsius and high around 3 degrees (above levels at the start of this century),” one draft says.

“With or without adaptation climate change will reduce median (crop) yields by 0 to 2% per decade for the rest of this century as compared to a baseline without climate change.”

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  • TheChuckr

    And the laws of thermodynamics are also non-negotiable, in this case, the 2nd Law. Whatever heat is stored in the deep ocean, assuming it can be measured accurately, and further assuming a creditable mechanism exists to get it there, and lastly, assuming a creditable mechanism exists to bring it to the surface, the heat will be diluted by cooler water limiting any increase in surface temperature of the oceans and thus limiting any potential increase in air temperature.

  • Raymond Del Colle

    “Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2002.” http://clmtr.lt/c/EMA0H0cMJ