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World Meteorological Organization:  Last Decade Warmest on Record

A new report says the last decade is the warmest on record. The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says data from around the world shows extreme weather patterns increasing in every region. It says the data supports scientific claims that global warming is occurring. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA.

The World Meteorological Organization says 2007 is shaping up to be the fifth-warmest year on record. It says this past year has seen, what it calls, a number of remarkable global climatic events.

These include the record melting of the Arctic Sea ice, which opened the Canadian Northwest Passage for the first time in recorded history. The year was also notable for the relatively small Antarctic ozone hole, the development of La Nina in the central and eastern Equatorial Pacific and devastating tropical storms.

The head of WMO's World Climate Program, Omar Baddour, says parts of Europe experienced the warmest winter and spring ever recorded. On the other hand, he says Australia recorded its coldest ever June.

He says extreme drought afflicted large parts of the United States and Canada, while other areas were hit hard by flooding.

"In terms of flooding, the tropical area, which is usually affected by monsoon, was recording extreme flooding events in Asia, India, Pakistan, Africa - where more than 25 million persons were affected," he said. "Actually, the flooding in Africa, particularly West Africa, Central Africa and East Africa was the worst recorded for many, many years."

Baddour says the debate on global warming is over. He says the majority of climate scientists agree that global warming and climate change are occurring.

He says the current observations on climate and weather extremes fit very well with these projections.

"When you have a single event, a single event - that means one year or a single event during that year - we cannot attribute it directly to global warming or climate change," he added. "But, if you put the events all together on a long-term time series, of course, this fits well with what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected."

Baddour notes the panel, which received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work, projected the intensification and increased frequency of extreme climate events.

He says one of the most visible manifestations of this is sea-level rise, which continues at rates substantially above the average for the 20th century.