|Villagers carrying guava wade through floodwaters in Gorakpur, India, on Tuesday. More than two weeks of teeming monsoon rains across South Asia have killed at least 376 people and stranded some 19 million. Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP.|
2007 seeing record extreme weatherAugust 6, 2007
GENEVA - The world experienced a series of record-breaking weather events in early 2007, from flooding in Asia to heat waves in Europe and snowfall in South Africa, the United Nations weather agency said Tuesday.
The World Meteorological Organization said global land surface temperatures in January and April were likely the warmest since records began in 1880, at more than 1 degree Celsius higher than average for those months.
There have also been severe monsoon floods across South Asia, abnormally heavy rains in northern Europe, China, Sudan, Mozambique and Uruguay, extreme heat waves in southeastern Europe and Russia, and unusual snowfall in South Africa and South America this year, the WMO said.
"The start of the year 2007 was a very active period in terms of extreme weather events," Omar Baddour of the agency's World Climate Program told journalists in Geneva.
While most scientists believe extreme weather events will be more frequent as heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions cause global temperatures to rise, Baddour said it was impossible to say with certainty what the second half of 2007 will bring.
"It is very difficult to make projections for the rest of the year," he said.
'More frequent' extremes predicted
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. umbrella group of hundreds of experts, has noted an increasing trend in extreme weather events over the past 50 years and said irregular patterns are likely to intensify.
"IPCC further projects it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent," the WMO noted.
South Asia's worst monsoon flooding in recent memory has affected 30 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, destroying croplands, livestock and property and raising fears of a health crisis in the densely-populated region.
The region saw four monsoon depressions in June and July, double the normal amount, the WMO said.
Huge swell waves swamped some 68 islands in the Maldives in May, resulting in severe damage, and the Arabian Sea had its first documented cyclone in June, touching Oman and Iran.
Heavy rains also doused southern China in June, with nearly 14 million people affected by floods and landslides that killed 120 people, the WMO said.
Europe, Africa, South America
England and Wales this year had their wettest May-July since records began in 1766, resulting in extensive flooding and more than $6 billion in damage, as well as at least nine deaths. Germany swung from its driest April since countrywide observations started in 1901 to its wettest May on record.
Temperature records were broken in southeastern Europe in June and July, and in western and central Russia in May. In many European countries, January and April were the warmest ever recorded.
In Africa, Mozambique suffered its worst floods in six years in February, followed by a tropical cyclone the same month, and flooding of the Nile River in June caused damage in Sudan.
South Africa in June had its first significant snowfall since 1981.
In South America, Uruguay in May had its worst flooding since 1959.
Argentina and Chile saw unusually cold winter temperatures in July. In Argentina, the capital Buenos Aires saw snow in July for the first time since 1918.
The WMO and its 188 member states are working to set up an early warning system for extreme weather events. The agency is also seeking to improve monitoring of the impacts of climate change, particularly in poorer countries which are expected to bear the brunt of floods, droughts and storms.