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‘Climate change … requires urgent action, not tomorrow but today’

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Sea level rise caused by global warming will affect millions of people by the end of the century.

World needs action on global warming

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For many people, the concept of global climate change remains abstract until they feel the impacts of global warming first-hand — just ask the residents of Sandy Hook, New Jersey or Boulder, Colorado.

That’s completely understandable, and ultimately, the impacts of global warming will mostly play out in the arena of day to day, month to month and year to year weather.

Some areas, like the Southwest, are already starting to see longer and more intense heatwaves and droughts, while other areas, like the coast of Alaska, see rising sees encroach on the land.

Here is how the World Meteorological Organization reacted to this week’s release of the IPCC‘s latest global climate change assessment: Continue reading

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WMO: ‘Unprecedented’ global warming from 1990 to 2010

Rate of sea level rise doubled in the first decade of the 21st century

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Forget the global warming denier meme du jour. Global warming hasn’t slowed or stopped — in fact, 2000-2010 was by far the warmest decade on record.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — High-impact climate extremes and record warmth in many parts of the world marked the 2000-2010 period, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which last week released a report detailing the globe’s climate during the first 10 years of the 21st century.

It was the warmest decade since the start of modern measurements in 1850, with more national temperature records broken than in any previous decade. Along with analyzing  global and regional temperatures and precipitation, the report took a close look at extreme events, including heat waves in Europe (2203) and Russia (201o), Hurricane Katrina in the United States of America, Tropical Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, droughts in the Amazon Basin, Australia and East Africa and floods in Pakistan.

The decade was the warmest for both hemispheres and for both land and ocean surface temperatures. The record warmth was accompanied by a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice, and accelerating loss of net mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and from the world’s glaciers. Continue reading

WMO: Global warming drives more climate disruption

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Earth is warming inexorably. Satellite image via NASA’s Blue Marble collection.

World’s top meteorological body concerned about global trends

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Climate-sensitive economic sectors like agriculture and energy are already feeling the pinch of more extreme fluctuations in the weather, driven by global climate change, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which released its annual climate statement for 2012 last week.

“It is vital that we continue to invest in the observations and research that will improve our knowledge about climate variability and climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “We need to understand how much of the extra heat captured by greenhouse gases is being stored in the oceans and the consequences this brings in terms of ocean acidification and other impacts,” Jarraud said in the statement. Continue reading

Climate: Australian heatwave sets numerous records

Global warming kicks into high gear Down Under

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Australian heatwave breaks records.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The New Year is barely a week old, but extreme weather continues, this time in the Southern hemisphere, where parts of Australia reached unprecedented high temperatures, in some cases ranging upward of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. For the sake of comparison, Death Valley reported a reading of 136 degrees way back in July, 1913.

Temperatures during the recent Australian heatwave were so warm that the country’s meteorology bureau added a new color to its temperature-scale map — bright purple, designating readings of warmer than 50 degrees Celsius (129 Fahrenheit). Read the latest update from the bureau here. Continue reading

Environment: Antarctic ozone hole closes early this year

Warmer stratosphere, active polar vortex help speed seasonal recovery

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A graphic from the WMO shows the progression of the Antarctic ozone hole.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Relatively warm stratospheric temperatures helped limit the size of this year’s Antarctic ozone hole, which disappeared completely by Nov. 10, earlier than in recent years.

Using data gathered from ground stations and weather balloons, the World Meteorological Organization said the warmer temps at an elevation of about 20 kilometers limited the formation of polar stratospheric clouds which, through a chemical chain reaction between water, nitric acid and halogenated reservoir gases cause ozone loss. In this respect, the 2012 ozone hole was similar to the one in 2010, when a sudden stratospheric warming in July and August gave rise to a smaller amount of polar stratospheric clouds than usual. Continue reading

2012 likely to end as one of the warmest year on record

World Meteorological Organization releases provisional annual climate statement to inform Doha talks

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A polar satellite view of Earth.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — 2012 will likely end up as one of the warmest years on record and will also go down in the history books as the year that Arctic sea ice extent dwindled to a new record low level, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which last week released its provisional annual statement on the state of the global climate within the framework of the COP 18 climate talks in Doha, Qatar.

The first nine months of 2012 were the ninth warmest January to October period since records began in 1850. The global land and ocean surface temperature for the period was 0.81 degrees above the 1961–1990 average, according to theWMO  statement.

Early in the year, a moderate to strong La Niña kept things from heating up too much, but when La Niña faded in the spring, parts of the globe heated up dramatically, including a large part of the U.S. which saw record heat waves from early spring through summer, including the warmest March on record in Colorado. The six-month average of May–October 2012 was among the four warmest such period on record. Continue reading

Climate: Greenhouse gases hit new record high in 2011

Greenhouse gas concentrations are increasing.

Increased concentrations add up to 30 percent more heating effect in just the past 20 years

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With heat-trapping greenhouse gases rising to a new record high in 2011, the World Meteorological Organization calculated that there has been a 30 percent increase in radiative forcing  – the warming effect on our climate – just in the past 20 years.

In its annual greenhouse gas bulletin, the WMO estimated that humankind has released about 375 billion tons of carbon the atmosphere as CO2 since the start of the industrial era in 1750. About half of this carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial biosphere. Continue reading

World Meteorological Organization shortens winter

Changing weather patterns prompted world climate officials to officially shorten the winter season by four weeks in an announcement made April 1.

New parameter better match current climate reality, scientists say

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — After evaluating the latest satellite data from the past few months, the World Meteorological Organization announced April 1 that, starting this year, the official winter season will be shortened by one month, two weeks at either end.

A warming global climate, especially in the Arctic, requires the change in order to keep the seasons in synch with climatological realities, said Manny Fairweather, lead long-range climate analyst for the Geneva-based group.

Instead of beginning Dec. 21, winter will officially start Jan. 6, and instead of ending March 21, it will end two weeks earlier, on March 7.

“It just doesn’t make sense for winter to last for three months anymore,” Fairweather said at an April 1 press conference. “The reality is that we just aren’t seeing winter conditions in December, so we’ve decided to delay the start of the season until January. Continue reading

WMO says global warming accelerated in past decade

2011 confirmed as warmest La Niña year on record

A World Meteorological Organization graph shows the sharp rise in global temperatures, both in El Niño and La Niña years.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Far from slowing down or stopping, climate change  accelerated in the past decade, the warmest 10-year span ever recorded in all continents of the globe, according to a March 23 statement by the World Meteorological Organization.

“This 2011 annual assessment confirms the findings … that climate change is happening now and is not some distant future threat,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, releasing the organization’s report on World Meteorological Day. “The world is warming because of human activities and this is resulting in far-reaching and potentially irreversible impacts on our Earth, atmosphere and oceans,” Jarraud said.

The organization’s annual statement on the status of the global climate confirmed that  2011 was the 11th warmest since record-keeping started 1850, making it the warmest La Niña  year on record. Globally-averaged temperatures in 2011 were estimated to be 0.40° Centigrade above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14°C. Continue reading

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