— The world’s climate is not only continuing to warm, it’s adding
heat-trapping greenhouse gases even faster than in the past, researchers
global temperature has been warmer than the 20th century average every month
for more than 25 years, they said at a teleconference.
show unequivocally that the world continues to warm,” Thomas R. Karl,
director of the National Climatic Data Center, said in releasing the annual
State of the Climate report for 2010.
"There is a
clear and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the depths
of the oceans,” added Peter Thorne of the Cooperative Institute for Climate
and Satellites, North Carolina State University.
increased by 2.60 parts per million in the atmosphere in 2010, which is more
than the average annual increase seen from 1980-2010, Karl added. Carbon
dioxide is the major greenhouse gas accumulating in the air that atmospheric
scientists blame for warming the climate.
conditions are consistent with events such as heat waves and extreme
rainfall, Karl said at a teleconference. However, it is more difficult to
make a direct connection with things like tornado outbreaks, he said.
weather event is driven by a number of factors, from local conditions to
global climate patterns and trends. Climate change is one of these,” he
said. “It is very likely that large-scale changes in climate, such as
increased moisture in the atmosphere and warming temperatures, have
influenced — and will continue to influence — many different types of
extreme events, such as heavy rainfall, flooding, heat waves and droughts.
being published by the American Meteorological Society, lists 2010 as tied
with 2005 for the warmest year on record, according to studies by the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. A separate
analysis, done in Britain, lists 2010 as second warmest.
chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at NCDC, noted that every month since
early 1985 has been warmer than the 20th century average for the month.
willing to attribute extreme weather events to climate change were speakers
at a second briefing organized by the Pew Center on Climate Change.
concluded just recently that the link between climate change and extreme
weather is not so much theoretical anymore as it is observational,” Fred
Guterl , executive editor of Scientific American magazine, said at that
is a risk factor for extreme weather just as eating salty foods is a risk
factor for heart disease,” said Jay Gulledge, director of the Science &
Impacts Program at the Pew Center. “That doesn’t mean we can predict the
next flood in Iowa or drought in Georgia ... but it means they are more
separate report from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental
Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder said the Earth is getting
thicker around the middle due to ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic
ice sheets. “If you imagine the Earth is like a soccer ball and you push
down on the North Pole, it would bulge out at its ‘equator,’” said CIRES
fellow Steve Nerem, co-author of the study.
At the NOAA
briefing, Karl added that the Greenland ice sheet lost more mass last year
than any year in the last decade. Melting of the land-based ice sheets in
places like Greenland, Antarctica and other regions has raised concerns
about rising sea levels worldwide.
“The arctic is
changing faster that most of the rest of the world,” added Walt Meier, a
research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of
Colorado. “This has long been expected.” In addition, he said, the September
Arctic sea ice extent was the third smallest in 30 years, older, thicker sea
ice is disappearing, there is a shorter duration of snow cover, and the
permafrost is melting.
that the conclusion that the earth is warming does not rest on a single type
The 2010 report
adds information on lake surfaces and permafrost temperatures for the first
time, bringing the total number of climate indicators considered to 41. The
report involved 368 researchers from 45 countries.
of the report:
shrank for the 20th consecutive year.
—Even with a
moderate-to-strong La Nina during the latter half of the year, which is
associated with cooler equatorial waters in the tropical Pacific, the 2010
average global sea surface temperature was third warmest on record and sea
level continued to rise.
saltier than average in areas of high evaporation and fresher than average
in areas of high precipitation, suggesting that the water cycle is
—A strong warm
El Nino climate pattern at the beginning of 2010 transitioned to a cool La
Nina by July, contributing to some unusual weather patterns around the world
and impacting global regions in different ways.
cyclone activity was below normal in nearly all basins around the globe,
especially in much of the Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic basin was the
exception, with near-record high North Atlantic basin hurricane activity.
—Heavy rains led
to a record wet spring (September to November) in Australia, ending a
Oscillation affected large parts of the Northern Hemisphere causing frigid
arctic air to plunge southward and warm air to surge northward. Canada had
its warmest year on record while Britain had its coldest winter at the
beginning of the year and coldest December at the end of the year.
pattern related to the strength and persistence of the storm track circling
the Antarctic led to an all-time maximum in 2010 of average sea ice volume
in the Antarctic.
Climatic Data Center:
State of the