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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Temperature is Rising

The World Meteorological Organisation released a statement on the status of the Global Climate on 15th December that 2005 will be the second hottest year on record, globally. The last 10 years (1996-2005), with the exception of 1996, are the warmest years on record.

The statement says that "For Australia, preliminary data indicate that 2005 will be the hottest year since records commenced in 1910, with around 97 per cent of the continent experiencing above-average mean temperatures. During the January-May period, the hottest maximum temperatures on record exacerbated the exceptionally dry conditions. Nationwide temperatures during the first five months of the year were 1.75oC above normal, surpassing the previous record by a substantial 0.57oC." See also Australian Bureau of Meteorology:

The WMO statement said there was Prolonged drought in some regions with Australia exceptionally dry during the period January to May 2005 "with 44 per cent of the continent experiencing rainfall in the lowest 10 per cent of the recorded totals. During this period, Australia received an average of only 168 mm of rainfall, the second lowest January - May total since records commenced in 1900. "

Dr Michael Coughlan, head of the National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology, told the ABC radio program TheWorld Today: "One has to probably go back into prehistoric times – and way back in prehistoric times – to be seeing these sorts of temperatures, and certainly in the last 1,000 years and probably even longer than that we've never seen this level of warmth for the globe as a whole. And of course everything's connected to everything, and the fact that the Earth is overall warmer, one can easily suggest that this will lead to more extreme conditions overall, simply because the atmosphere has got more energy to work with."

Extreme Weather Events increasing

In the Atlantic basin the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season brought an unprecedented 26 named tropical storms that caused devastating losses across Central America, the Caribbean and the United States. The 2005 hurricane season broke the previous record for the most named storms (21 storms in 1933) and for the most hurricanes (12 in 1969). The devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina was the result, which killed at least 1 300 people. Hurricane Wilma was the most intense Atlantic Hurricane ever recorded. To follow up on the social devastation of Katrina see:

Extreme weather events mean big economic losses. According to a report on ZNET: "The world has suffered more than 200 billion dollars in economic losses as a result of weather-related natural disasters over the past year, making 2005 the costliest year on record, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the Munich Re Foundation at the international climate conference in Montreal."

Ozone holes continue at the Poles

According to the WMO statement, the size of the Antarctic ozone hole was close to 2003 values and well above the 1995-2004 average. The Antarctic Ozone hole reached its maximum size (24.4 million km2) during mid to late September. The ozone hole had dissipated by mid November, earlier than usual. It was the third largest ever recorded after 2000 and 2003, according to satellite data. Greater ozone depletion took place in the Arctic during 2005 with average values of total ozone in the northern spring being 30-45 per cent lower than comparable values during the early 1980s.

Drastic reduction in Arctic Sea Ice

For the fourth year in a row the extent of Arctic sea-ice has declined during September. Warmer-than-average Arctic temperatures and an early arrival of the sea-ice melt season are put forward as the main causes for the intensification of sea-ice decline in 2005. The ice sheet is shrinking at a rate of about 10% per decade, with Arctic summer temperatures climbing to around 2 °C higher than they were 50 years ago. An article in Nature reports that Polar Bears were being forced by climate change into cannibalism and attempting suicidal swims. Three conservation groups launched a bid on Thursday 15 December, to have polar bears designated as 'threatened' under the USA Endangered Species Act. But don't hold your breathe. If they are successful, the necessary steps to list polar bears as threatened could take up to two years.

USA Greenhouse Gas emmissions up 2 per cent

Latest news is that Greenhouse gases emissions grew by 2 percent in the United States in 2004, according to the US Energy Department reported released on Monday 19 December. Greenhouse gases rose to 7.12 million metric tons, up from 6.98 million metric tons in 2003, some 16 percent higher than in 1990, and an average annual increase of 1.1 percent. The Kyoto Protocol, which the Bush administration has refused to sign, called for Western nations to cut their 1990 levels of "greenhouse" gas emissions by 5 percent by 2012. At the current growth rate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 would be nearly 25 percent higher than they were in 1990.

US EIA report: