Cancun Climate Conference hears that extreme heat events are likely to become the norm

By Lucy Brake - 02 Dec 2010 8:50:0 GMT
Cancun Climate Conference: Extreme heat events will be the norm

The United Nation's weather agency, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), warned representatives at the UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico this week that the extreme heat waves and freak events being experienced around the world will in likelihood soon be the norm if the trends over the last few decades are anything to go by.

Ghassam Asrar, Director of the Climate Research Centre at WMO, said that the last decade has confirmed predictions by scientists from 20 years ago that temperatures around the world will rise and storms will become more intense, and that these trends are likely to continue. According to WMO, the global temperatures over the last decade have been the warmest ever recorded.

Extreme heat events were experienced around the world killing thousands, including the heat wave Europe suffered under in 2003 and the brutal heat event earlier this year in Russia, with temperatures in Siberia recorded above 30 degrees Celsius. Asrar believes these heat waves will end up forming 'average' summer weather conditions rather than being unusual events.

Images copyright NOAA

Even though the science of weather is evolving and developing each year, based on the current patterns, WMO are warning governments to start planning right now for an increasingly warmer world. "There is no question the past three decades have become progressively warmer," Asrar said, "we are on an upward trajectory". He believes that by the time the end of the 21st century comes around, these freak heat waves and events will seem cool in comparison to the type of heat events the planet will see at that time in the future.

According to the climate scientists, this trend for an increasingly hot planet is due to the pollution from industrial emissions and greenhouse gasses that have been storing up in the atmosphere and as a result directing heat into the Earth's weather system.

The global climate conference currently under way in Cancun, Mexico is focused on coming up with solutions to these increasingly worrying trends of extreme weather events. The aim is to try to get international agreement to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses with the goal of keeping global temperatures from continuing their upward spiral. Now the latest report by WMO has just increased the pressure on these negotiations to find a path forward.

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Topics: Climate