| NUSA DUA, Indonesia
NUSA DUA, Indonesia This year will be among the
seven warmest on record, with extreme events including a
precipitous thaw of Arctic sea ice, U.N. data showed on
Thursday on the sidelines of a U.N. climate conference.
The study also said that 1998-2007 was the hottest decade
since reliable records began around 1850, in further evidence
of what the U.N. Climate Panel calls "unequivocal" warming in
"What we see is confirmation of this warming trend," Michel
Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO),
said during U.N. climate talks where 190 nations are deadlocked
over how to step up action to slow climate change.
"This year was in the top seven," he said. The WMO says
1998 was the warmest year followed by 2005, 2001, 2003, 2004
Jarraud said it was not yet possible to rank 2007 exactly.
The data are based on two sources -- the U.S. National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration says 2007 is fifth warmest while
data from England's University of East Anglia places it
Among extremes, Jarraud noted that the Arctic ice shrank at
the end of the northern summer to the smallest since satellite
records began in the 1970s, opening the fabled Northwest
Passage for a first time and eclipsing a 2005 low by 23
Signs of extreme weather this year include a cyclone in
Bangladesh that killed 3,000 people in November, droughts in
Australia and China, and floods in Bolivia. England had its
wettest summer since records began in 1766.
"Natural disasters are a major obstacle to development as
they keep happening with increasing frequency," Jarraud said.
He said people could not prevent cyclones, for instance, but
could mute damage with better forecasting and preparation.
The Bali talks, due to end on Friday, are seeking to agree
a "roadmap" to launch two years of talks on a new treaty to
bind all nations, including the United States and developing
nations, more tightly into combating warming.
The U.N. climate panel blames human activities, led by
burning fossil fuels, for rising temperatures.
Jarraud also said that surface temperatures in the northern
hemisphere were likely to be the second warmest on record in
2007 while temperatures in the southern hemisphere ranked ninth
World temperatures are about 0.74 Celsius (1.2 F) higher
than a century ago. "The difference between an Ice Age and an
interglacial period like now is 6 Celsius (11 F)," Jarraud
said. "We are adding to an already warm period."
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(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)