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The year is shaping up to be a warm one. A report released by the World Meteorological Association (WMO), the provisional annual statement on the state of the global climate, highlights a warming trend experienced during the first 10 months of 2102. The organization finds that despite La Niña occurring early in the year temperatures were the ninth warmest annually since records began in 1850.
La Niña is an ocean-atmosphere weather occurrence that typically causes a cooling for the year. The WMO believes that weather may have cooled, but not enough to prevent record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather conditions globally.
“Naturally occurring climate variability due to phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña impact on temperatures and precipitation on a seasonal to annual scale. But they do not alter the underlying long-term trend of rising temperatures due to climate change as a result of human activities,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, in a statement.
The provisional statement covers January through October of 2012. Records show the global land and ocean surface temperature for the period was about 0.81°F. That’s above the average of 25.5°F in the period between 1961 and 1990, according to a statement cited by the WMO.
A weak-to-moderate strength La Niña began in late October of last year and carried through the beginning of 2012. Typically the presence of La Niña in the start of a year tends to have a cooling influence on global temperatures. WMO observed that after the end of La Niña in April this year, global land and ocean temperatures rose increasingly above the long-term average with each consecutive month. This suggests that La Niña had a cooling effect, despite the higher temperatures.
A rise in land and ocean temperatures had a global effect.
“The extent of Arctic sea ice reached a new record low. The alarming rate of its melt this year highlighted the far-reaching changes taking place on Earth’s oceans and biosphere. Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records,” Jarraud said.
This year the Arctic reached its lowest annual sea ice extent since the start of satellite records in 1979. The lowest point occurred on September 16 at 2 million square miles. At that point the levels were 18 percent less than the previous record low of September 18, 2007. The 2012 minimum extent was 49 percent, or nearly 1.98 million square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum. The report estimates that some 7 million square miles of Arctic ice melted between March and September 2012.
The provisional statement will receive an update in the new year, to account for the full year 2012. The early findings will be reported at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.
WMO will also release a 10-year report on the state of the climate, “2001-2010, A Decade of Extremes,” next week on December 4.
Photo Credit: Niko Lang