2001- 2010: A Decade of Climate Extremes

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drought in Africa

drought in Africa

The world experienced unprecedented high impact climate extremes in the decade to 2010, from heat waves in Europe, hurricanes and tropical storms in the Americas and Asia, floods in Pakistan and droughts in Australia and East Africa, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The report says the 2001-2010 decade was the warmest since records began in 1850.

The record warmth was accompanied by a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice and accelerating loss from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets which led to a modest rise in sea level of about three millimetres.

WMO says the decade was also the wettest since 1901,while over 500 tropical cyclones reported during the decade resulted in nearly 170,000 deaths and economic damages to $ 380 billion.

Deaths from extreme events totalled 370,000 people, up 20 per cent from the 1990s.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud however said more research is being conducted into whether it is possible to attribute individual extreme events to climate change rather than natural variability.

"We cannot attribute a single event to climate change because these events result from many many complex interactions. However because of climate change we expect these things to become more frequent in the future or more intense. For example heat waves, we expect that at the end of this century depending on the various scenario, this heat wave will definitely not be exceptional. It could even by a normal event at the end of this century, and the same for some floods, for some droughts and for a number of events. But we can say some of these events would have been unlikely without human induced climate change." 

WMO says although the number of people exposed to flooding every year had more than doubled worldwide, there was a significant decline in deaths due to storms and flooding mainly due to better early warning systems and increased preparedness.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 2.18″

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