Past decade hottest on record, marked by extremes

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CLIMATE20130705GENEVA: The 21st century’s first decade was the hottest on record, with temperatures rising at an unprecedented pace and weather extremes claiming over 370,000 lives, the United Nations (UN) said on Wednesday.

In a new report on 2001-2010, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that land and sea temperatures averaged 14.47 degrees Celsius (58 degrees Fahrenheit).

This compares with the long-term average of 14 C (57.2 F), as measured from weather records dating back to 1881.

“This is the warmest decade of this whole period,” said WMO chief Michel Jarraud.

When measured globally, every year of the decade except 2008 was among the 10 warmest on record, the report showed.

“The increase between the 1990s and the past decade is the largest since we have instrumental records,” Jarraud added.

In 2001-2010, the average global temperature jumped 0.21 degrees (0.37F) over the previous decade. By comparison, warming rose by 0.14 C (0.25F) in the 1990s over the 1980s.

Global warming is blamed on human activity such as industrial emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide.

Sceptics, however, suggest temperatures should be even higher according to estimates based on carbon dioxide levels and that global warming is therefore plateauing.

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