Past decade set to be warmest on record

New research from the World Meteorological Organisation shows that the past decade has been the warmest since records began 160 years ago.

The United Nations weather agency and Britain's Met Office presented their findings at the Copenhagen climate change summit.

The figures show a steady rise in temperatures over the past four decades, with 2009 listed as likely to be the fifth warmest year since records began in 1850.

"In the last decade we have seen that the temperatures haven't gone up very much, but they are clearly a lot warmer then they were in the previous decade," says Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met office.

Some of the UN's weather data was provided by Britain's University of East Anglia which is at the centre of a row over leaked emails which appear to suggest that the theories around man-made climate change are not solid.

The secretary-general of the WMO, Michel Jarraud, also observed that Australia has so far had its third warmest year on record.

"There were above-normal temperatures in most parts of the continents, and only in USA and Canada there were significant areas with cooler-than-average conditions," he says.

"But in large parts of Southern Asia, Central Africa, these regions are likely to have the warmest year on record."

Jarraud says the year has also been notable for extreme weather events.

"China with the third warmest year in the last 50 years, heat waves in Italy, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, an extreme heat wave in India, and Australia the third warmest year on record with three exceptional heat waves," he said.

Those heatwaves hit south-eastern Australia in January, February and November and the sub-tropical east in August.


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