The Earth has just experienced its warmest December-February since records began 128 years ago, adding fire to global warming concerns.
This story is from news.com.au network Source: AFP
By Veronica Smith in Washington
March 16, 2007
A US government agency reported a record warm January worldwide pushed average temperatures to 0.72C above normal for the 20th Century.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it was the highest average temperature for the period since records began in 1880.
The report came less than a month after a UN panel said that global warming was almost certainly caused by human activity and several governments and international bodies have sounded the alarm over the need to cut carbon emissions.
The El Nino phenomenon, an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern Pacific, contributed to the chart-busting combined global land and ocean surface temperature, the NOAA said.
But El Nino rapidly weakened in February, as ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific cooled more than 0.3C and were near average for the month.
Nevertheless, the ocean-surface temperature in the period tied for second warmest on record, the agency said, just 0.06C cooler than the record established during the very strong El Nino episode of 1997-1998.
The NOAA scientists pointed to a steady rise in temperatures in recent decades.
During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.06C per decade.
“But the rate of increase has been three times larger since 1976, or 0.18C per decade, with some of the largest temperature increases occurring in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere,” they said.
For the United States alone, the December 2006-February 2007 winter season had an overall temperature that was close to average, while December was the 11th warmest on record.
The UN’s Intergovernment Panel of Climate Change said last month that human activity was almost certain to blame for global warming and warned that the Earth’s average surface temperature could rise between 1.1C and 6.4C by 2100.
Fossil fuel pollution will raise temperatures this century, worsen floods, droughts and hurricanes, melt polar ice and damage the climate system for a thousand years to come, the UN’s top panel on climate change said.