Early 2007 saw record-breaking extreme weather

flooding.jpgThe weather is getting more extreme thanks to human-caused climate change (as I’ve pointed out many times, see here, here, and here).

Now the World Meteorological Organization reports more evidence:

In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89°C warmer than average for January and 1.37°C warmer than average for April. Several regions have experienced extremely heavy precipitation, leading to severe floods. The Fourth Assessment Report of the WMO /UNEP Intergovernmental Group on Climate Change (IPCC) notes an increasing trend in extreme events observed during the last 50 years. IPCC further projects it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.

The start of the year 2007 was a very active period in terms of extreme weather events,” said Omar Baddour of the WMO’s World Climate Program.

Here are some of the extremes that have been happening around the globe in 2007 as reported by Reuters and the WMO:

South Asia’s worst monsoon flooding in recent memory has affected 30 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, destroying croplands, livestock and property and raising fears of a health crisis in the densely-populated region….

Cyclone Gonu, the first documented cyclone in the Arabian Sea, made landfall in Oman on 6 June with maximum sustained winds near 148 km/h. Gonu moved through the Persian Gulf making a second landfall in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Oman, the cyclone affected more than 20,000 people and was responsible for more than 50 fatalities.

Heavy rains during 6-10 June ravaged areas across southern China. Flooding affected over 13.5 million people with more than 120 fatalities due to floods and landslides.

In England and Wales the period May to July in 2007 was the wettest (406 mm) since records began in 1766, breaking the previous record of 349 mm in 1789. The extreme rainfall in June, with 103.1 mm of rain recorded in 24 hours during 24-25 June in northeast England, was followed by a similar event with 120.8 mm of rain on 20 July in central England. Both events resulted in extensive flooding across parts of England and Wales. At least nine people have died and damage is estimated at more than US$6.00 billion.

With 126 mm (normal for 1961-1990: 71 mm], Germany experienced its wettest May since country-wide observations started in 1901. In sharp contrast, the previous month was the driest April since 1901 with an average of 4 mm (7% of the 1961-1990 normal)….

Two extreme heat waves affected south-eastern Europe in June and July, breaking the previous records with temperatures exceeding 40 °C. Dozens of people died and fire-fighters worked around the clock fighting blazes devastating thousands of hectares of land. On 23 July, temperatures hit 45°C in Bulgaria, setting a new record.

In May a heat wave affected areas across western and central Russia breaking several temperature records. In Moscow, temperatures on 28 May reached 32.9°C, the highest temperature recorded in May since 1891….

In India, a heat wave during mid-May produced temperatures as high as 45-50°C.

Many European countries had their warmest January on record. January temperatures in The Netherlands were the highest since measurements were first taken in 1706, averaging about 7.1°C (2.8°C above 1961-1990 average) while in Germany the temperatures were 4.6°C above the 1961-1990 average.

An increase in intense tropical cyclone activities in the North Atlantic since about 1970 has been observed.

We are changing the climate. And it will only get worse. Heck, if we’re seeing this much extreme weather from a 0.8°C warming over the past century — imagine what will happen in the coming decades when we warm three to five times as much (or more).

And, for the deniers still out there, WMO threw in this:

According to the most recent climate change scientific assessment reports of the joint WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature. The 100-year trend (1906-2005) is 0.74°C. The linear warming trend over the last 50 years (0.13°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years. Paleoclimatic studies suggest that the average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely the highest in the past 1,300 years.

IPCC further notes that there has been an increasing trend in the extreme events observed during the last 50 years, particularly heavy precipitation events, hot days, hot nights and heat waves.

Climate change projections indicate it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.

So, yes, it will get worse. The sooner we act, the more we can minimize the future damage.

4 Responses to Early 2007 saw record-breaking extreme weather

  1. Steve says:

    Great post.

    Those of us in your camp (or at least partially in) trust that you and your assistant, Ms. Manlove, are doing all you can to try to get your up-to-date, timely, and comprehensive book into the hands of returning college students majoring in Environmental Science as one of their required textbooks.

    Time better spent than sparring endlessly with denyers….

    By the way, I saw a post where someone recently asked about the assembly of average global temperatures. I’m curious as well: How is this done? How many data points are involved? How often are readings taken? How is the data averaged into the single figure typically cited by experts in the field?


  2. Steve says:

    Thanks for getting back to Paul and I on our question about how the cited average global temperatures — air and water — are measured and calculated. We’re better equipped now to take on the denyers who say anyone can make statistics lie.

    Further to this post — not nearly as important as the bridge collapse hypothesis, I know — here’s a recent story that may matter to some people:

    By the way, I just finished your “fellow Fellow” Matt Miller’s book, The Two Percent Solution. Excellent book. Helps one keep everything in perspective. There are other problems out there… and the center is a bit sick of hearing the extreme right and left tee it up with the same old gridlock (witness the bridge collapse debate turning into a ridiculous debate over socialism vs. free markets).

    Good luck….

  3. Paul K says:

    Steve wrote “Thanks for getting back to Paul and I on our question about how the cited average global temperatures — air and water — are measured and calculated. ” I can’t seem to find where Joe posted his answer.

  4. hippie with a pistol says:

    WMO Statement on the status of the global climate in 2006 states:

    “All temperature values have uncertainties, which arise mainly from gaps in data coverage. The size of the uncertainties is such that the global average temperature for 2006 is statistically indistinguishable from, and could be anywhere between, the first and the eighth warmest year on record.”

    Quiz, what’s does WMO say about anthro contribution? What does WMO say about tropical cyclones? Status on understanding of atmosphere chemistry and need for accurate measurements?