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Earth Experiencing Unprecedented Climate Extremes, UN Report Reveals

Update Date: Jul 04, 2013 12:46 AM EDT

Earth has experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes in the ten years from 2001 to 2010 - the warmest decade since the start of modern measurements in 1850 - announced the World Meteorological Organization.

In the decade in question our planet saw unfolding an extended period of accelerating global warming, with more national temperature records reported broken than in any previous decade. And if that wasn't enough, the sea levels rose about twice as fast as the trend in the last century.

The report entitled The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Climate Extremes takes a look into global and regional temperatures and precipitation, and extreme weather such as the heat waves in Europe and Russia, Hurricane Katrina in the US, tropical cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, droughts in the Amazon basin, Australia and East Africa, and floods in Pakistan.

The study concluded that the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest for both hemispheres, and for both land and ocean surface temperatures. There was 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.

In other hand, the melting and the thermal expansion of sea water has been behind the rise of about 3 millimeters per year on the global average sea levels. This number is twice of the observed 20th century, which was of 1.6 mm per year.

According to the report, the global sea level averaged over the decade was about 20 cm higher than in 1880 and global-average atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose to 389 parts per million in 2010, 39% higher than at the start of the industrial era in 1750. Methane rose to 1,808.0 parts per billion (158%) and nitrous oxide to 323.2 ppb (20%).

"A decade is the minimum possible timeframe for meaningful assessments of climate change," said Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general. "[WMO report] it shows that global warming accelerated in the four decades of 1971 to 2010 and that the decadal rate of increase between 1991-2000 and 2001-2010 was unprecedented. Rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are changing our climate, with far-reaching implications for our environment and our oceans, which are absorbing both carbon dioxide and heat."

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