The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — A monsoon dropped 14 inches of rain in one day across many parts of South Asia this month.
The year still has almost five months to go, but it has already experienced a range of weather extremes that the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Tuesday is well outside the historical norm and is a precursor of much greater weather variability as global warming transforms the planet.
The warming trend confirmed in February by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — based on the finding that 11 of the past 12 years had higher average ground temperatures than any others since formal temperature recording began — appears to have continued with a vengeance into 2007. The WMO reported that January and April were the warmest worldwide ever recorded.
"Climate-change projections indicate it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent," the organization said.
"The average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely the highest during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years, and likely the highest in the past 1,300 years," the report said.
The heavy rains in
The warming of the globe is expected to result in more extreme weather because of changes in atmospheric wind patterns and the ability of warmer air to hold more moisture, according to Martin Manning, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) working group on the physical science of climate change.
He said one year of heavier-than-normal rains and warmer-than-usual temperatures says nothing definitive about climate change but is consistent with the IPCC's long-term predictions.
"What we have projected is an increase in extreme events as the global temperatures rise," Manning said. "Floods, droughts and heat waves are certainly consistent with that."
The IPCC has also predicted that temperate zones, such as Europe and the
Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said he was at a
"What I saw just brought home exactly what the IPCC and this report are saying — that we will be having more extreme weather," Clapp said. "What's frightening to me is that it's all happening more quickly than the earlier models predicted, which tells us that the effects of the buildup of greenhouse gases is probably more damaging than we've thought."
According to the World Meteorological Organization report, the extreme weather occurred in many parts of the globe.
In May, a series of large waves (estimated at 10 to 12 feet) swamped almost 70 islands in 16 atolls in the
Two months later, an unusual winter brought high winds, blizzards and rare snowfall to parts of
Two extreme heat waves affected southeastern
The WMO is the United Nations' authority on weather, climate and water issues. The report was based on information supplied by WMO members and was done with the collaboration of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center, Germany's National Meteorological Service and the Met Office in Britain. A more comprehensive report on the world's weather will be released at the end of the year.
The WMO, which is a co-sponsor of a series of meetings and reports on global climate change, is putting together an early-warning system for climate extremes and is establishing long-term monitoring systems and plans to help the countries most vulnerable to climate change.