Such is the takeaway from the annual report of the World Meteorological Organization, released Monday. Much of the report reads like the weather version of the Guiness Book of World Records.
There were 41 billion-dollar weather events in 2013. Rising sea levels are contributing to storm damage. One typhoon, Phailin, the second-worst ever to make landfall in India, killed at least 6,100 people and cost $13 billion in losses in the Philippines and Vietnam. Central European flooding caused $22 billion damage. Typhoon Fitow caused $10 billion in damage in China and Japan. Massive drought throughout much of China caused $10 billion in damage.
And although 2013 wasn't the warmest year on record, it ranked high on the list, even though last year was not one of those associated with El Niño warming. So far, the WMO reported, 13 of 14 of the world's hottest years since records have been kept occurred in the 21st century. Over the past 30 years, each decade has been hotter than the last, the report said, "culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record."
While scientists and government officials met this week in Japan to put the finishing touches on the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in Geneva called the extreme weather of last year "consistent with" what scientists have predicted would be the consequences of human-induced climate change. The report noted:
Today, there is a growing ability within the climate science community to untangle the complexities of understanding the natural and human-induced factors contributing to specific extreme weather and climate events. Recent analyses of various events show that the effects of natural weather and climate fluctuations played a key role in the intensity of and evolution of may extreme events. However, for some events, the analyses revealed compelling evidence that human-caused climate change, due to the emission of heat-trapping gases, also contributed. Understanding the influences on such events helps us to better understand how and why extreme events are changing. In addition, calculating how the odds of a particular extreme event have changed provides a way to quantify the influence of climate change on these events.In this regard, the WMO report highlighted Australia. That continent had its hottest year ever in 2013. Read below the fold to see that meteorologists who wrote the report are convinced the extreme Australian weather is a human-generated occurrence that is going to get worse.
In summary, comparing climate model simulations with and without human factors shows that the record hot Australian summer of 2012/13 was about five times as likely as a result of human-induced influence on climate and that the record hot calendar year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without human contributions of heat-trapping gases, illustrating that some extreme events are becoming much more likely due to climate change.Virtually impossible.
To reiterate for the skeptics, in announcing the report's release, WMO's Jarraud said: "It is not possible to reproduce these [real-life Australian] heat waves in the models if you don't take into account human influence."
Weather at the earth's poles have undergone special scrutiny because scientists see changes happening faster than elsewhere on the planet in the extreme conditions of the Arctic and Antarctic. From the report:
Another way to assess the state of the Arctic sea ice is to estimate the age of the ice, given that first-year ice is the thinnest and most susceptible to melting. Ice that was four years of age and older decreased from 18 per cent of the ice over in March 1984 to 2 per cent in March 2012. It increased slightly to 3 per cent in 2012. In March 1984, 56 per cent of the ice pack was composed of first-year ice, while in March 2013 first-year ice comprised 78 per cent of total ice over at its peak.
While much sneering has been delivered by climate-change deniers about the temperature "plateau" of the past decade and a half, the WMO report points out that the ocean works as a buffer. Ninety-one percent of carbon dioxide emissions have been taken up by the ocean from 1971 through 2010. From 1980-2000, the ocean added 50 zettajoules (1021) joules of heat. Between 2000 and 2010, it added three times that amount. At some point, a saturation point will be reached.
Meanwhile, worldwide, the ocean pH is down .11, a 30 percent increase in acidification since the dawning of the industrial age 250 years ago that is already harming coral reefs and other animals.
• Atmospheric carbon dioxide reached record levels in May 2013. Methane reached a record high in 2012. (No compilation of figures for all of 2013 is yet available.)
• The oceans reached the highest levels ever recorded.
• Japan and Korea had their warmest summers on record.
• A place in South Africa had the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Africa for March (117°F).
• Most of Siberia had an extra cold winter, 3.6°-5°F below average.
• The European part of the Russian Federation had its warmest November on record
• Greenland had the highest air temperature ever recorded there: 78.6°F.
• Argentina had the hottest December on record.
•Very hot temperatures combined with strong winds and drought led to the largest wildfire in Colorado history.
• The eastern inland part of Iceland recorded its coldest May ever, -6°F.
• Austria set a new high temperature for August (104.9°F), The same day in Bratislava, Slovakia, the temperature hit 102.6°F, the hottest since records started being kept in 1850.
• The monsoon was early this year and contributed to flooding that killed thousands in India.
• California saw its driest year since records started being kept 119 years ago.
• Northeastern Brazil had its worst drought in half a century while in the south of the country, seven cities recorded their most precipitation ever in December with one city, Aimores, receiving four times its average precipitation for the month.
• During flooding throughout central Europe, the Passau River in Germany rose to its highest level since 1501.
• 17 inches of snow fell in 24 hours in North Dakota, a one-day record. Duluth, Minnesota, and Rapid City, South Dakota, had their snowiest Aprils on record (51 inches and 43 inches respectively).
• Snow fell in Cairo for the first time since 1901. Jordan, Syria and Israel all received record amounts of snow, and the temperature fell to -3°F in Shoubak, Jordan, on Dec. 15, the coldest day ever recorded in the country.
• Typhoon Phailin forced 1.1 million people to evacuate in the Indian states of Odisha and Andrha Pradesh, one of the largest evacuations in the nation's history.
•In El Reno, Oklahoma, witnesses saw the widest tornado ever recorded: 2.7 miles.