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2013 The Seventh Hottest Year Already, More Warming Seen-WMO

posted 13 Nov 2013, 05:45 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 13 Nov 2013, 05:46 ]

The World Meteorological Organization says 2013 is expected to become among the top 10 warmest years on record and the impact of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is aggravated by rising sea levels.

WARSAW, POLAND (NOVEMBER 13, 2013) (REUTERS) -  This year is the seventh warmest since records began in 1850 with a trend to weather extremes and the impact of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines aggravated by rising sea levels, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday (November 13).

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A build-up of manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere meant a warmer future was now inevitable, WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jeremiah Lengoasa told a news conference on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks among almost 200 nations in Warsaw.

The WMO, giving a provisional overview, said the first nine months of the year tied with the same period of 2003 as seventh warmest, with average global land and ocean surface temperatures 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 1961-1990 average.

Lengoasa said 2013 was likely to end among the top ten warmest years since records began.

"The year 2013 is already on course to be among the top 10 warmest years since modern recordings began in 1850," Lengoasa said.

Among the extremes has been super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most intense storms in history that smashed into the Philippines last Friday (November 10).

Lengoasa said that individual tropical cyclones, such as Haiyan, could not be directly attributed to the effects of climate change.

"We cannot at this stage attribute a single typhoon to climate change. What we do know of course is that climate change affects sea levels and sea level rise, secondly climate change affects ocean surface temperatures and this context, as you would know, these are fuelled...these storms are fuelled by warmer oceans over which they form and over which they pass," he said, adding that it was not known whether tropical cyclones would become more frequent or not.

"The jury is still out on whether in fact tropical cyclones will become more frequent in the future but certainly we can see the extremities of the storms are only increasing because the conditions under which they are created are changing."

Other extremes this year have included record heat-waves in Australia and flooding in several areas includingSudan and large areas of Europe, the WMO said. Japan had its warmest summer on record.

In September, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised the probability that mankind was the main cause of warming since 1950 to at least 95 percent from a previous assessment of 90 percent, in 2007.

It predicted impacts including more heat-waves, downpours and rising sea levels.

Thomas Stocker, a senior scientist at the IPCC, said rising sea levels changed the overall conditions, making it easier for typhoons to build up.

"Extreme events as individual events are very hard to tie to global warming and the change in carbon dioxide concentrations. What we can say is that a warming climate which also entails warming sea surface temperatures changes some of the initial conditions that facilitate the building of such typhoons, but to make a statement specific to an individual event is not possible by the science."

WMO said higher sea levels were already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges.

In a report the organisation said that although the global mean sea-level rise from 1950 to 2010 was 10 centimetres (100 millimetres), for the region near the Philippines, it was 35 cm (350 mm).

"Sea level is rising globally at a very fast pace by about three millimetres per year but there are local expressions of sea level caused by changing wind patterns, circulation and differential uptake of heat in the ocean," Stocker said.

As of early November 2013, there had been 86 tropical cyclones since the start of the year, from typhoons to Atlantic hurricanes, closing in on the 1981-2010 average of 89 storms, the WMO said.