Manmade Climate Change Accelerated In 2001-2010, World Meteorological Organization Reports

WMO: The global temperature increase rate has been “remarkable” during the previous four decades, according to the preliminary summary. The global temperature has increased since 1971 at an average estimated rate of 0.166°C per decade compared to the average rate of 0.06 °C per decade computed over the full period 1881-2010.

World Meteorological Organization annual statement for 2011 — full report here

WMO annual statement confirms 2011 as 11th warmest on record

Climate change accelerated in 2001-2010, according to preliminary assessment

GENEVA, 23 MARCH 2012 (WMO) – The World Meteorological Organization’s Annual Statement on the Status of the Global Climate said that 2011 was the 11th warmest since records began in 1850. It confirmed preliminary findings that 2011 was the warmest year on record with a La Niña, which has a cooling influence. Globally-averaged temperatures in 2011 were estimated to be 0.40° Centigrade above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14°C.

Precipitation extremes, many of them associated with one of the strongest La Niña events of the last 60 years, had major impacts on the world. Significant flooding occurred on all continents, whilst major droughts affected parts of east Africa and North America. Arctic sea ice extent fell to near record-low levels. Global tropical cyclone activity was below average, but the United States had one of its most destructive tornado seasons on record.

The annual statement for 2011 was released for World Meteorological Day 23 March. In addition, WMO also announced preliminary findings of the soon to be released Decadal Global Climate Summary, showing that climate change accelerated in 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade ever recorded in all continents of the globe.

The rate of increase since 1971 has been “remarkable” according to the preliminary assessment. Atmospheric and oceanic phenomena such as La Niña events had a temporary cooling influence in some years but did not halt the overriding warming trend.

The “dramatic and continuing sea ice decline in the Arctic” was one of the most prominent features of the changing state of the climate during the decade, according to the preliminary findings. Global average precipitation was the second highest since 1901 and flooding was reported as the most frequent extreme event, it said.

The full report will be released later in the year following further analysis of data received from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and collaborating monitoring agencies. The decadal summary aims to increase understanding of our varying and changing climate from a longer-term perspective and complements WMO’s annual reports.

“This 2011 annual assessment confirms the findings of the previous WMO annual statements that climate change is happening now and is not some distant future threat. 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,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.



The decade 2001-2010 was the warmest since records began in 1850, with global land and sea surface temperatures estimated at 0.46°C above the long-term average (1961-1990) of 14.0°C. Nine of these years were among the ten warmest on record. The warmest year on record was 2010, closely followed by 2005, with a mean temperature estimated at 0.53°C above the long-term average. It was the warmest decade ever recorded for global land surface, sea surface and for every continent.

Most parts of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Asia and northern Africa recorded temperatures for the decade between 1°C and 3°C above the 1961-1990 average.

Nearly 90% of the countries involved in the assessment experienced their warmest decade on record.

The global temperature increase rate has been “remarkable” during the previous four decades, according to the preliminary summary. The global temperature has increased since 1971 at an average estimated rate of 0.166°C per decade compared to the average rate of 0.06 °C per decade computed over the full period 1881-2010.

(See Figures 1-3)


Global precipitation (rain, snow etc) over land in 2001-2010 was the second highest average after 1951-60 since 1901. Within this global average, there were big regional and annual differences.

Large parts of the Northern Hemisphere recorded wetter-than-average conditions during the decade, especially the eastern United States of America, northern and eastern Canada, and many parts of Europe and central Asia. South America, including Colombia, parts of northern and southern Brazil, Uruguay and northeastern Argentina experienced wetter-than-average conditions, as did most parts of South Africa, Indonesia and northern Australia.

In contrast, other regions experienced, on average, below normal precipitation. The western United States, southwestern Canada, Alaska, most parts of southern and western Europe, most parts of southern Asia, central Africa, central South America, and eastern and southeastern Australia were the most affected.

(See Figures 4 and 5)

Extreme Events

Numerous weather and climate extremes affected almost every part of the globe with flooding, droughts, cyclones, heat waves, and cold waves. Two exceptional heat waves hit Europe and Russia during summer 2003 and 2010 respectively with disastrous impacts and thousands of deaths and outbreaks of prolonged bush fires.

Flooding was the most reported extreme event during the decade with many parts of the world affected. Historical widespread and prolonged flooding affected Eastern Europe in 2001 and 2005, Africa in 2008, Asia (in particular Pakistan) in 2010 and India in 2005, and Australia in 2010.

A large number of countries reported extreme drought conditions, including Australia, eastern Africa, the Amazonia region and the western United States. Humanitarian consequences were significant in eastern Africa during the first half of the decade, with widespread shortage of food and loss of lives and livestock.

Forty-eight out of 102 countries (47 per cent) reported that their highest national maximum temperature was recorded in 2001-2010, compared to 20 per cent for 1991-2000 and around 10 per cent for the earlier decades.

The decade saw the highest level of tropical cyclone activity on record for the North Atlantic basin. In 2005 category 5 hurricane Katrina was the most costly hurricane to hit the United States, with a significant human toll of more than 1 800 deaths. In 2008, tropical cyclone Nargis was the worst natural disaster in Myanmar and the world’s deadliest tropical cyclone during the decade, killing more than 70 000 people.

(See Figures 6 and 7)

Sea Ice

The decline in the Arctic sea-ice, observed since the end of the 1960s, continued throughout 2001-2010. A historical low Arctic sea-ice extent at the melting period in September was recorded in 2007.

Arctic sea ice extent was again well below average in 2011. The seasonal minimum, reached on 9 September, was 4.33 million square kilometres (35% below the 1979-2000 average) according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. This was the second-lowest seasonal minimum on record, 0.16 million square kilometres above the record low set in 2007. Sea ice volume was even further below average and was estimated at a new record low of 4200 cubic kilometres, surpassing the record of 4580 cubic kilometres set in 2010.

Satellites have shown the fluctuation in sea ice from year to year since 1972. According to scientific measurements, both the thickness and sea ice extent in the Arctic have shown a marked decline over the past 35 years. Data indicate, however, an even more dramatic reduction in Arctic sea ice cover in recent years. The last six years of the decade (2005 to 2010) recorded the lowest five September extents, with 2007 recording the record minimum extent with 4.28 million km2, 39 % below the 1979-2000 reference period.

18 Responses to Manmade Climate Change Accelerated In 2001-2010, World Meteorological Organization Reports

  1. David F. says:

    It’s good to see the WMO taking note of the numerous extreme weather events that have been observed recently. I think this is also an area the IPCC is looking to place more focus on, given its immediate implications.

    Considering the numerous examples of anomalous weather events, culminating in the recent record-breaking North American March heat, I think there’s a good chance that global warming is fundamentally altering climate regimes. This recent heat wave was almost a textbook example of the type of weather patterns Stu Ostro noted in his Powerpoint. And to me this really suggests that maybe Dr. Hansen’s dice analogy is insufficient. It seems these extremes are occurring more frequently than would be expected just by the loaded dice. Atmosphere on steroids really is probably a better metaphor for what’s going on. It will be interesting to see what the rest of 2012 holds. The weather forecasts here are calling for temperatures to drop into the mid 20s Fahrenheit, which, although only slightly cooler than the normal low temps and well above record values (which are generally in the single digits or even below zero this time of the year), could spell disaster for fruit growers whose trees are already in full bloom.

  2. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    The climate is a series of ups and downs. The last five years were supposed to be a down; deep solar minimum and La Nina. La Nina is trending to neutral and the sun is waking up in fits and starts.

    The next five years could be very interesting.

    It is amazing how much the rules of weather have already changed.

    >When I was a child big black dark clouds meant I was going to get wet, now they just blow away (this has been noticeable for the last 15 years).

    >Cyclones (hurricanes) seem to brew up and fade out so much quicker and size and power don’t always go together. Cyclone Larry was such a tiny little thing, but it sure packed a punch.

    When I made a comment a few years ago about drought, drought, flood giving a good average but not good for cropping I had no idea how true and how soon that was going to be.

    As much as I call myself a Doomsayer, nature is proving to move faster than even what I expected.

  3. It is worth noting that every major scientific organization that has seen fit to take a position on global warming has come down on the side of the IPCC. Please see:

    Signatories of Statements Supporting the Need to Address Climate Change

    … for a few examples and links.

  4. Bill Henderson says:
    Leemans and Eickhout (2004) found that adaptive capacity decreases rapidly with an increasing rate of climate change. Their study finds that five percent of all ecosystems cannot adapt more quickly than 0.1 °C per decade over time.

    Forests will be among the ecosystems to experience problems first because their ability to migrate to stay within the climate zone they are adapted to is limited. If the rate is 0.3 °C per decade, 15 percent of ecosystems will not be able to adapt. If the rate should exceed 0.4 °C per decade, all ecosystems will be quickly destroyed, opportunistic species will dominate, and the breakdown of biological material will lead to even greater emissions of CO2. This will in turn increase the rate of warming.

    Given climate lag times of 30-40 years so that 2000 – 2010 temp rise is proportional to 70s consumption and emissions and 2000 – 2010 consumption and emissions are almost double 70s:

    If temperatures were increasing at 0.166C per decade in the first decade of this century, what will be the rate of temperature rise in 2040? 0.4C or over?

  5. Leif says:

    I have not liked the term, “Global Warming” for a long time and like others have cast around for a better description. About 0.5C does not amount to much to fear in the minds of most. On the other hand, look at the amount of added energy delivered into the system to get that much warming and one gets a sense of the magnitude. ~1,000,000 Hiros a day.

    So today’s suggestion. “Global Energizing.”
    ~1/2 billion Hiros a year. Go back to 1950 as a point of not to many a day to now, we have 1,000,000/2 X 365 days X 61 years = a jaw dropping ~11,315,000,000 Hiros since the start of this Geo-engineering effort. Energy drives weather systems! Cold ones but preferably warm ones and intense ones.

  6. Robert In New Orleans says:

    I think the future heating curve may be faster and steeper than many of us anticipated and/or feared.

  7. Irv Beiman says:

    While Joe Romm does the best job I know of in reporting, analyzing and spreading the word about the science of climate change, what’s happening now and what will likely happen in our future, there’s not a lot of information about solutions, other than his “wedges” strategy.

    My expertise is in designing one page graphic illustrations of strategy in a format called a STRATEGY MAP.

    See my first blog post last week at for a set of strategy maps at multiple levels: L1 global, L2 regional/nationl, L3 Organizational, L4 Urban/City, and L5 is for Individuals, which will be posted later.

    The major variables getting in the way of intelligent responses to climate change are not technological; they are intangible. These strategy maps cover both the tangible and intangible areas of critical concern.

    Be advised China is moving in the right direction for improvements in energy efficiency, but the country’s total GHG emissions will continue to rise, unfortunately so.

    I now have 9 student projects using social media to increase awareness of climate change in China, something that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

    We have to keep plugging away to build momentum for breaking through to a comprehensive set of strategic responses to the massively increasing threat.

    I’m preparing my second blog post now. the first addressed the issue of ALIGNMENT and the five levels. This second post will address “why the climate debate?” and the need for FOCUSED ACTION.

    I believe one of the multiple strategies that has a chance to gain traction and reach critical mass is the use of social media on climate awareness and climate action.

    to JOE: I send your most salient and relevant posts to my contact at the CHINA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. There’s a least a decent chance they get distributed beyond the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute to other units with CAS. They are particularly concerned about water, as you must know, but I’ve been sending them tons of stuff, most of it from

    Keep up the great work!


  8. Colorado Bob says:

    The NCDC records page crashed this month, and is still down tonight, but the Weather Channel reported today that March has set over 6,000 new high temp. records.

  9. Brad Arnold says:

    Here is what Climate Code Red says:

    –Human emissions have so far produced a global average temperature increase of 0.8 degree C.

    –There is another 0.6 degree C. to come due to “thermal inertia”, or lags in the system, taking the total long-term global warming induced by human emissions so far to 1.4 degree C.

    –If human total emissions continue as they are to 2030 (and don’t increase 60% as projected) this would likely add more than 0.4 degrees C. to the system in the next two decades, taking the long-term effect by 2030 to at least 1.7 degrees C. (A 0.3 degree C. increase is predicted for the period 2004-2014 alone by Smith, Cusack et al, 2007).

    –Then add the 0.3 degree C. albedo flip effect from the now imminent loss of the Arctic sea ice, and the rise in the system by 2030 is at least 2 degree. C, assuming very optimistically that emissions don’t increase at all above their present annual rate! When we consider the potential permafrost releases and the effect of carbon sinks losing capacity, we are on the road to a hellish future, not for what we will do, but WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY DONE.

    There is a new clean energy technology that is one tenth the cost of coal. LENR using nickel. Incredibly: Ni+H(heated under pressure)=Cu+lots of heat.

    This phenomenon (LENR) has been confirmed in hundreds of published scientific papers:

    “Over 2 decades with over 100 experiments worldwide indicate LENR is real, much greater than chemical…” –Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center

    “Total replacement of fossil fuels for everything but synthetic organic chemistry.” –Dr. Joseph M. Zawodny, NASA

    By the way, here is a survey of all the companies that are bringing LENR to commercialization:

  10. John McCormick says:

    Brad, thanks for those informative links. I too believe there are many efforts around the world leading to possible breakthrough technologies that shift us away from coal and NG as electric power plant fuels. But, we were there in the 1970s and 1980s with promising technologies including cold fusion, magneto-hydrodynamics to name just two.

    From theory to bench scale to demo to deployment, as we both know, is measured in decades. Then, there is the great inertia machine reluctant or refusing to scrap amortized infrastructure for a new devise for which there is very limited production capacity or trained workforce to build, operate and maintain the wonder thing.

    I am not being argumentative here. I am merely pointing out the reality of lead time for inventors to become captains of a new industry.

    So, I read the first half of your excellent post and find myself wondering how we are going to get past a 1 deg C increase (rising .166 deg c/decade) and try to cope with all of what that will bring to the global climate system, cryosphere, world’s food baskets and seafood. In other words, your words would give hope if it were 1945 and not 2012.

    The ability to adapt may be slow but real as an earlier post above pointed out…. but adapting to what? A moving target?

    Migration has its limits as far as food crop species go. People will struggle to adapt until their funds run out. And, finally, those links do not represent anything relating to liquid fuel alternatives.

    I already have my garden set up and as long as I can plant and harvest, I’ll remain optimistic. Thanks for your optimism.

  11. Jeff in Texas says:

    Last year we received the worst drought in history, and this year it has rain decent amounts with an actual spring vs the August in March we went through last year. These ups and downs are wild, someone posted earlier about black clouds just passing by with little or no rain. I’ve seen this too and remember the total opposite when I was younger! Very weird to watch. Dry powerful winds seem to be more frequent also. I’ve lived in this south-central part of Texas all my life and never ever have the winds been this ridiculously strong unless there is a storm coming. Last year I felt like I was back in Kuwait. Every time those winds pick up I fear the drought around the corner. So far we’ve been lucky but if these ups and downs continue I’m moving out of this future desert.

    Sadly though there is nothing we or anyone can do to this (man-made accelerated climate change). Its like saying okay instead of money we are going to try something else to motivate and build and economy. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Folks are greedy, as much as we say we care about ANYTHING that can be easily bought and changed by numbers. IT ONLY TAKES A FEW BAD APPLES TO DESTROY A BUNCH! when it comes to money…just look at the simple part, a millionaire or billionaire is far more powerful than hundreds of people. More so now than ever before. Folks don’t get together right and protest because we have depended on this more so than ever-almost everyone has to buy something to live. As well as making things that last vs now…its easier just to buy another one isn’t it.

    You can not stop the greed, just join it like the millions of us have, besides one day money will be replaced by the need for potable water.

  12. Mauri Pelto says:

    For the 2010 BAMS State of the Climate, authors had to report on decadal trends. For my chapter on glaciers, this showed a dramatic increase in mass losses for glaciers from 2000-2010.

  13. Killian says:

    There are three major problems in moving forward (setting aside the insanity of denial given exactly zero evidence to support that position):

    1. No backcasting. For the first time in history,we actually have a clear idea of what our world might look like hundreds and even thousands of years into the future. We should take, at least, the minimum change we expect (really should be the worst case scenario for proper application of the precuationary principle and well-done risk assessment) and figure out what it would take to live in that world, and, more so, bring us back to the stability of 300 ppm. (350 is not useful: the changes were measurable already at even that level; let’s listen to mother nature: never above 300ppm during the Ice Age. Hint, hint…)

    2. Geo-engineering is a good way to die. Unintended consequences. Can anyone name any significant – or even insignificant – change we’ve made during the industrial that hasn’t also had significant negative unintended consequences, whether direct or indirect?

    This is all the more absurd when you consider that using purely organic, non-invasive, restorative options are available to not only bring net emissions to zero, but actually start reversing atmospheric CO2 by between 1 and 5ppm a year. Why geo-engineer when you can just regrow forest ecosystems, grow edible forest ecosystems which will sequester carbon and massively improve efficiency and resilience in the food system – and can be done anywhere – and move all fasrming and gardning to regenerative practices… and thus get ou that -1 to -2 (maybe even -3) ppm a year? That’s WITHOUT de-industrializing!! Add real human change such as deindustrializing (fancy term for use a lot less; it doesn’t actually mean no industry at all), localizing food and general production, walkable cities/towns/communities… etc., etc. and we could get to -5ppm/yr. Get down to 300 ppm and you can add a little consumption back in to stabilize at that rate. Actually, forest ecosystems will stabilize at a given mass, anyway, and do much of that balancing naturally.

    3. Far too many people don’t understand where we are with climate and resource depletion and that is primarily due to false witness from we-all-know-who. It is illegal to yell “fire!” in a theater, it should be illegal to yell, “There is no fire!” when there is one. We have to find a way to get the discussion to be reality-based so we can get this done. We have two choices: ignore them and drown them out, or prosecute them. The former is more palatable, the latter more expedient. Regardless, it must be done.

    Whichever we choose – if not both – our actions must remain the same: we have to start building resilience, naturally, and NOW. We can use the technology we have already poisoned the planet with to leverage the change. We call it Accelerating Succession: let’s not make anymore bulldozers, but let’s use the ones we’ve already made to build the swales, pond and other earthworks we need to create functioning, non-industrial water supply and replenish our groundwater supply while growing all the food we need… and easily. (E.g.)

    We have to start building the future structure of society NOW. (Some of us already are. Join in, please.)

  14. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    I entirely agree with the contents of the post.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP),India

  15. Joan Savage says:

    What I have to get through my head is that the situation is not just rising at the average of a few degrees per century; instead the accumulating energy is splitting between thermal and kinetic. The stored thermal is mostly in the ocean, and kinetic is in the forms of wind, updrafts, currents, etc. The kinetic energy develops the extreme events that are not represented in the uptick by the usual thermal measurements.
    If a continental winter can now be 6.5 F above normal, so can a summer.

    I’d like to see us talking about the accumulating joules of energy, instead of just degrees of temperature.

  16. James Briggs says:

    “I’d like to see us talking about the accumulating joules of energy, instead of just degrees of temperature.”
    That may be the most intelligent statement I’ve read online in years. I’ve been telling people of this for years. The latent heat of fusion for 0 deg ice to change to water with no change in temperature is 80 times the amount for water to change 1 deg in temperature.
    When the ice is gone look out. We could be parboiled slowly, because its latent heat of vaporization is 540 to raise the temp 0 deg at 100 C.
    As for the wilder extremes in weather what do you expect when the poles swap darkness every 6 months. the heat moves toward the cold ends melting ice, heating water and sending it in to the sky. But thanks to GHG’s the ground is too warm, keeping the air too warm for the water to condense out.

  17. Joan Savage says:

    Thanks for the compliment, and adding expansion points!
    Between ice melt and par-boiling are numerous energy-related effects, like formation of clouds at an altered altitude. I hope we hear more examples about how climate change is affecting weather already.

    Of particular interest, at least to me, is Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) measured in joules per kilogram, a measure of instability and indicator of thunderstorms.

  18. Joan Savage says:

    That’s why I want people to talk about joules of energy. Joules stored in the ocean, joules that crank up a thunderstorm, joules expended in a highway minute at 60 mph– ‘Hiros’ has shock value, but I want people to ‘see’ how added joules from the global energy imbalance affect us every day.