Reports reveal worsening global climate

7th August 2014

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Lisle Erskine-Naylor

Global climate indicators in 2013 continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to a new report from the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 2.8 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, reaching a global average of 395.3 ppm for the year, says the State of the climate in 2013 report. It notes that on 9 May last year the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded the daily concentration of CO2 exceeding 400 ppm for the first time since measurements began at the site in 1958.

Last year also provided further evidence that surface temperatures are continuing to increase. The AMS reports that four major datasets show 2013 was among the warmest ever recorded, with temperatures in Australia the highest on record. Data indicates that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record, while the Arctic observed its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 20th century.

The global mean sea level continued to rise last year, increasing at the same pace (about 3.2mm a year) as that recorded anually over the past two decades.

Separate research, meanwhile, shows that weather, climate and water-related disasters are increasing. A study by the World Meteorological Organisation and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium shows that between 1970 and 2012 there were 8,835 disasters, 1.94 million deaths and economic losses totaling $2.4 trillion reported globally as a result of hazards, such as droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, tropical cyclones and related health epidemics. Storms and floods accounted for 79% of the total number of disasters due to weather, climate and water extremes, and caused 55% of lives lost and 86% of economic losses over the 42-year period.

New findings from European commission scientists indicate that climate damage in the EU could amount to at least €190 billion a year if global temperature increased by 3.5°C. Heat-related deaths could reach about 200,000, the cost of river flood damages could exceed €10 billion, and 8,000km2 of forest could burn in southern Europe, says the commission’s joint research centre.


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