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2012 among top 10 warmest years: report

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-02 18:39

GENEVA - The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Thursday that the year 2012 was the ninth warmest on record despite the cooling influence of a La Nina episode early in the year.

The WMO's Statement on the Status of the Global Climate said that the global land and ocean surface temperature in 2012 was estimated to be 0.45 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average of 14.0 degrees.

This was the ninth warmest year since records began in 1850 and the 27th consecutive year that the global land and ocean temperatures were above the 1961-1990 average, according to the statement.

It said that during 2012, above-average temperatures were observed across most of the globe's land surface areas, most notably North America, southern Europe, western Russia, parts of northern Africa and southern South America.

Nonetheless, cooler-than-average conditions were observed across Alaska, parts of northern and eastern Australia, and central Asia.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said that although the rate of warming varies from year to year due to natural variability caused by the El Nino cycle, volcanic eruptions and other phenomena, the sustained warming of the lower atmosphere is a worrisome sign.

"The continued upward trend in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and the consequent increased radioactive forcing of the Earth's atmosphere confirm that the warming will continue," he said.

Jarraud said that the record loss of Arctic sea ice in August-September, 18 percent less than the previous record low of 2007 of 4.17 million square kilometers was also "a disturbing sign of climate change".

"The year 2012 saw many other extremes as well, such as droughts and tropical cyclones. Natural climate variability has always resulted in such extremes, but the physical characteristics of extreme weather and climate events are being increasingly shaped by climate change," he said.

"For example, because global sea levels are now about 20 cm higher than they were in 1880, storms such as Hurricane Sandy are bringing more coastal flooding than they would have otherwise," Jarraud said.

The WMO's annual statements gather the key climate events of each year, which is an internationally recognized authoritative source of information about temperatures, precipitation, extreme events, tropical cyclones, and sea ice extent.

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