Report confirms climate still heading in wrong direction

Wednesday 29th Jun 2011 by theWeather club

It's now official, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record. So says the 2010 State of the Climate report, issued by US govt department the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in coordination with the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The report -this year's was compiled by 368 scientists from 45 countries- provides a detailed, annual update on global climate indicators, notable climate events and other climate information from every continent.

This year's report tracked 41 climate indicators including temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, precipitation, greenhouse gases, humidity, cloud cover, ocean temperature and salinity, sea ice, glaciers, and snow cover. "We're continuing to closely track these indicators because it is quite clear that the climate of the past cannot be assumed to represent the climate of the future. These indicators are vital for understanding and making reliable projections of future climate," said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Centre.

Last year was marked by important climate systems like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation, significantly affecting regional climates and contributed to many of the world's significant weather events in 2010. Some of the climate issues flagged by the study were:

Three major datasets show 2010 as one of the two warmest years since official record-keeping began in the late 19th century. Annual average temperatures in the Arctic continued to rise at about twice the rate of the lower latitudes.

Arctic sea ice shrank to the third smallest area on record, and the Greenland ice sheet melted at the highest rate since at least 1958. Alpine glaciers shrank for the 20th consecutive year.

Oceans were saltier than average in areas of high evaporation and fresher than average in areas of high precipitation, suggesting that the water cycle is intensifying.

Greenhouse Gases: Major greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise. Carbon dioxide increased by 2.60 parts per million (ppm), which is more than the average annual increase seen from 1980-2010.

Each of the indicators used consists of thousands of measurements from multiple datasets allowing scientists to identify overall trends. So far analysis of the data has shown a continuation of the long-term trends consistent with global climate change. The report is avaliable online from the NOAA Satellite and Information Service