Warmest decade on record

The Met Office released a report today showing that the first decade of this century has been, by far, the warmest decade on the instrumental record.

New figures released today in Copenhagen show that – despite 1998 being the warmest individual year – the last 10 years have been the warmest period in the 160-year record of global surface temperature, maintained jointly by the Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Similar results are revealed in the independent analyses made by the United States National Climatic Data Center and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The figures highlight that the world continues to see global temperature rise, which the Met Office stated is mostly due to increasing emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Separately, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has today revealed that 2009 looks set to become another top-10 warm year according to latest figures, with a provisional warming of 0.44°C above the long-term average of 14°C.

The WMO also reported that 2009 has been warmer than 2008, owing to the emergence of El Niño conditions in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

It is expected that 2009 will be the fifth-warmest year in the instrumental record that dates back to 1850.

Mark Maslin, director of the UCL Environment Institute, said that climate change detractors cannot refute the evidence showing the early 2000s are the warmest decade that humanity has ever recorded and that 2009 is the fifth-warmest year on record.  

‘Combine this data with scientific evidence collected from satellites showing the retreat of arctic sea ice, the retreat of nearly all the world’s glaciers and even the evidence from the British public that spring is now arriving two weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago, and climate change is shown to be incontrovertible,’ he added. ‘It is now up to the negotiators and politicians at Copenhagen to best decide how we manage climate change and protect their people.’
Other experts responding to the Met Office and WMO findings said the data backs up scientific models on how climate change will affect agriculture, water supply and the globe’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Simon Harrison, chair of the IET Energy Sector Panel, said the Met Office and WMO findings should be taken seriously by the energy sector.

‘Delivery of a low-carbon energy system in the UK and around the world is a pressing priority and an immense challenge,’ he added. ‘We will also need to take seriously the need to adapt energy infrastructure to deal with more extreme and uncertain weather.’

The Met Office results were gathered from temperature records collated from more than 1,500 stations that make up the global land surface temperature record.

The three centres that calculate global-average temperature each month include the Met Office, in collaboration with the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is part of NASA, and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).