2010 likely to make list of 3 hottest years ever
CANCUN, Mexico — A scorching summer that killed thousands in Russia and exceptionally mild winters in the Arctic were among extreme weather events that have put 2010 on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, UN specialists said yesterday.
The data from the World Meteorological Organization show that the past decade was the warmest ever, part of a trend that scientists attribute to man-made pollution trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Europeans and some Americans may think it was chilly this year, but their unusually cold winters were more than balanced by searing heat from Canada to Africa and the Indian subcontinent, said Michel Jarraud, the group’s secretary-general.
Parts of Greenland, where glaciers are threatened with summer melt, had an annual average temperature of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, said the the organization’s preliminary report, released on the sidelines of a UN conference on climate change.
Moscow had 33 consecutive days when the thermometer topped 86 degrees Fahrenheit and one day when it cracked 100, a new record. Russian officials ascribed 11,000 excess deaths to the heat wave and peat fires that raged on the capital’s outskirts.
The meteorological organization said the same extreme weather event that suffocated Russia also caused the floods that submerged a fifth of Pakistan, killing 1,700 people and displacing 20 million. The year also witnessed heavy rains that lashed Australia and Indonesia, flooding in Thailand and Vietnam, and drought in the Amazon basin and southwest China.
“The year 2010 is almost certain to rank in the top three warmest years since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850,’’ the group said.
The two other extraordinary years were 1998 and 2005.
The conference, which ends Dec. 10, is seeking agreement on a narrow package of measures to help poor countries prepare for changing climate conditions.