OSLO Climate change is still nudging up
temperatures in the long term even though the warmest year was
back in 1998 and 2008 has begun with unusual weather such as a
cool Pacific and Baghdad's first snow in memory, experts said.
"Global warming has not stopped," said Amir Delju, senior
scientific coordinator of the World Meteorological
Organization's (WMO) climate program.
Last year was among the six warmest years since records
began in the 1850s and the British Met Office said last week
that 2008 will be the coolest year since 2000, partly because
of a La Nina event that cuts water temperatures in the Pacific.
"We are in a minor La Nina period which shows a little
cooling in the Pacific Ocean," Delju told Reuters. "The decade
from 1998 to 2007 is the warmest on record and the whole trend
is still continuing."
This year has started with odd weather including the first
snows in Baghdad in memory on Friday and a New Year cold snap
in India that killed more than 20 people. Frost hit some areas
of Florida last week but orange groves escaped mostly
Iraqis welcomed snow as an omen of peace. "It's the first
time we've seen snow in Baghdad," said 60-year-old Hassan
Zahar. "I looked at the faces of all the people, they were
Last year, parts of the northern hemisphere were having a
record mild winter with even Alpine ski resorts starved of
Delju said climate change, blamed mainly on human emissions
of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would bring
bigger swings in the weather alongside a warming trend that
will mean more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas.
"The more frequent occurrence of extreme events all over
the world -- floods in Australia, heavy snowfall in the Middle
East -- can also be signs of warming," he said.
The U.N. Climate Panel said last year that global warming
was "unequivocal." It said temperatures rose by 0.74 degrees
Celsius (1.3 Fahrenheit) in the 20th century and could rise by
a "best guess" of another 1.8 to 4.0C (3.2 to 7.2F) by 2100.
The record year for world temperatures was 1998, ahead of
2005, according to WMO data. Among recent signs of the effects
of warming, Arctic sea ice shrank last year to a record low.
Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the U.N. Panel that shared
the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al
Gore, said he would look into the apparent temperature plateau
so far this century.
"One would really have to see on the basis of some analysis
what this really represents," he told Reuters, adding "are
there natural factors compensating?" for increases in
greenhouse gases from human activities.
He added that skeptics about a human role in climate change
delighted in hints that temperatures might not be rising.
"There are some people who would want to find every single
excuse to say that this is all hogwash," he said.
Delju said temperatures would have to be flat for several
more years before a lack of new record years became
He noted 2005 was the second hottest year and that 1998 was
boosted by a strong El Nino event which can raise temperatures
worldwide in the opposite of the La Nina cooling.
Underscoring an underlying rise in temperatures, British
forecaster Phil Jones said 2001-07, with an average of 0.44
Celsius above the 1961-90 world average of 14 degrees, was 0.21
degree warmer than the corresponding values for 1991-2000.
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(Editing by Charles Dick)