An article by CleanBiz.Asia staff.
Much of the extreme weather that wreaked havoc in Asia, Europe and the Pacific region last year can be blamed on human-induced climate change, the UN’s weather agency said in a report released yesterday.
In its annual assessment the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said 2013 was the sixth-warmest year on record while 13 of the 14 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one.
Temperatures in 2013 reached an average of 14.5°C, which is 0.50°C above the 1961-1990 average and 0.03°C higher than the 2001-2010 decadal average, the WMO said.
Periods of extreme heat were seen late last year in the Southern Hemisphere, with Australia having its hottest year on record and Argentina with its second hottest.
A rise in sea levels is leading to increasing damage from storm surges and coastal flooding, as demonstrated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the agency’s Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said. The typhoon in November killed at least 6,100 people and caused USD13 billion in damage to the Philippines and Vietnam.
“Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change,” Jarraud said.
He also cited other costly weather disasters such as USD22 billion damage from central European flooding in June, USD10 billion in damage from Typhoon Fitow in China and Japan, and a USD10 billion drought in much of China.
Only a few places — including the central United States —were cooler than normal last year but, on the other hand, 2013 had no El Nino, the warming of the central Pacific that happens once every few years and changes rain and temperature patterns around the world.
Jarraud spoke as top climate scientists and representatives from about 100 governments with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change met in Japan to complete their latest report on global warming’s impact on hunger, disease, drought, flooding, refugees and war.
Speaking in Geneva, Jarraud drew special attention to studies and climate modeling examining Australia’s recent heat waves, saying the high temperatures there would have been virtually impossible without the emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
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