Humans at fault for extreme weather in 2013: UN


Extreme weather events in 2013 can largely be traced to global warming caused by human actions, stated in the newest Status of the Climate Report from the United Nations. 

Michael Jarraud is secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization. His group just released a new annual report on global climatic conditions. Extreme weather events were experienced in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Pacific last year. 

According to the new assessment, 2013 was the sixth-warmest year on record. The 13 complete years since 2000 have made up all but one of the 14 hottest on record, according to the U.N. report. Australia recorded a new average high temperature, as did parts of Africa central Asia. 

"Naturally occurring phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or El Niño and La Niña events have always contributed to frame our climate, influenced temperatures or caused disasters like droughts and floods. But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise," Jarraud wrote in a statement.

Typhoon Haiyan, which struck Phillipines in November, was typical of the types of extreme weather people can expect to see more often, Jarraud surmised. That storm cost $13 billion, and killed more than 6,100 people. 

The climate report for 2013 was based on data from three independent studies. These included data collected since 1850, from both the Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (HadCRU) in the United Kingdom. Information was also obtained from the NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

A drought in China caused $10 billion in damages, and central Europe was saw flooding in June that totaled $22 billion in costs. 

One of the few areas of the world to see cooler temperatures in 2013 was the central United States. The southeast United States saw highly-unusual cold patterns, as did some parts of Europe. 

A study of higher temperatures in Australia used nine separate computer models to determine if the phenomenon was due to man-made causes, or was a natural occurrence. Models revealed the record-high temperatures last year would have been nearly impossible without trapped greenhouse gases. 

During 2013, 41 storms caused a billion dollars or more in damage. That is the second-highest number of such storms on record. 

The report is available online from the World Meteorological Organization Web site.   

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