World Meteorological Organization concludes planet is getting warmer

Deputy Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization Jerry Lengoasa speaking during a news conference on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Rogan Ward
Deputy Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization Jerry Lengoasa speaking during a news conference on Tuesday.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the planet is getting warmer.

WMO Deputy Secretary General Jerry Lengoasa broke the news this week in Durban, South Africa, where nearly 200 countries are gathered for climate talks at COP 17.

“Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” Lengoasa told reporters.

The WMO also announced that 2011 will enter the record books as one of the hottest years on record, but not as warm as 2010 which stands in as the warmest year since records have been kept.

Northern Russia reported a particularly warm year in 2011. Many recording stations in Siberia registered temperature increases of 7 degrees F (4 degrees C).

In Minnesota, records were set in July, even though (with one exception) no 100-plus degree days were recorded, according to Mark Seeley, climatologist with the University of Minnesota.

In the Twin Cities, he said, “the heat index at midnight on July 20th was still 100 degrees F, perhaps the only time it has been so high that late at night.”

Seeley noted that on July 19 an all-time high dew-point level was achieved with a reading of 82 degrees F. (All of these new readings have yet to be certified, he added.)

Warmer nighttime temperatures have long been predicted by atmospheric scientists as an effect of greater CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

The international weather monitoring organization also reported that 2011 arctic sea ice volume was the lowest it had ever recorded.

WMO Scretary-General Michel Jarraud issued this statement: “Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs. They are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2-2.4 degree C rise in average global temperatures.”

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists say that such a level of warming could trigger irreversible changes in weather patterns, agriculture and human health.

A warming climate is capable of adding a substantial amount of moisture to the atmosphere, and scientists have long predicted the additional moisture would fall as heavy winter snows or spring rains.

Seeley pointed out that 2011 was the third year in a row of major spring snowmelt flooding along the Red River Valley.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report earlier this month drawing a link between extreme weather events and global warming, while cautioning that not every weather event can be traced to a single cause.

Nevertheless, the scientists argue, bigger storms, heavier precipitation and stronger winds are likely. (Seeley reported a “new straight line wind speed record for the state set in Kittson Country on September 1, 2011.”)

The WMO’s report on the average global temperature this year puts 2011 in the top 10 hottest years on record.

The full text of the WMO global climate status report is here.

Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/01/2011 - 12:23 pm.

    “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” Lengoasa told reporters.

    Those darn scientists! There they go just trying to get more funding again. They keep bring up this thing they call “data” they know one but them can understand and interpret. If it were up to me I would put them all on a project to figure out how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

  2. Submitted by Rich Crose on 12/01/2011 - 01:26 pm.

    Finally, big business is doing something about global weirding.

    They raised my insurance rates 10% last year.

  3. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/01/2011 - 03:01 pm.

    Todd (#1):

    What data presented showed “that this warming is due to human activities”?

    Don is great with the anecdotal data: “In the Twin Cities, he said, “the heat index at midnight on July 20th was still 100 degrees F, perhaps the only time it has been so high that late at night.”

    What is heat index, and how many years of heat index data do we have?

    The all-time record for the hottest weather temperature day in Minneapols/St. Paul history is 108 degrees, which occurred on July 14, 1936. Other places in Minnesota have reported greater highs.

    The problem with anecdotal data is that the more of it you give, the more of it you get.

  4. Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/01/2011 - 04:16 pm.

    What isn’t anecdotal is that CO2 and methane are greenhouse gases. They retain heat in an atmosphere by preventing it from radiating away into space. Denialists can’t deny this because it is a physical property of these gases. Thus, to claim that human activity is not responsible for the warming of the planet, they must somehow explain how the heat retention property of the gases is not operative in Earth’s atmosphere. They do not, because they cannot.

    CO2 retains heat. More CO2 means more heat retained. The rest is all just screaming and jumping around – i.e., politics.

  5. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/01/2011 - 04:40 pm.

    Water vapor is a bigger player in the greenhouse effect than is CO2. That is why in dry regions, like the Sahara, it can be 120 degrees F during the day and drop to nearly freezing temperature overnight. In high humidity regions, like a rainforest, the temperature only drops 5 or 10 degrees overnight. CO2 is not so good at retaining heat.

    Will H2O be the next CO2? The harmless and essential molecule we are told to fear?

  6. Submitted by Tim Larson on 12/01/2011 - 08:32 pm.

    //In the Twin Cities, he said, “the heat index at midnight on July 20th was still 100 degrees F, perhaps the only time it has been so high that late at night.”

    “Perhaps” being the operative word. Because he really has no idea if it was or not.

  7. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 12/01/2011 - 11:01 pm.

    Humans use oxygen and expel CO2. The human population continues to grow exponentially. The increaseing CO2 levels are obviously man made. As to the earth warming, we must have at least 75-100 years of accurate data as to the earth’s temperatures, once we can account for the other several million years, solar activity, asteroids, etc. we can then say that human activity over the last 50 years has radically changed the planet’s environment.

    We can also tell the rest of the planet to stop developing because they are killing the planet.

  8. Submitted by Jim Dawson on 12/02/2011 - 03:34 am.

    The WMO statement is no surprise to the many scientists working around the world on problems related to global warming. To see the consequences of the warming close to home, please note that the glaciers are vanishing from Montana’s Glacier National Park. While that is an inconvenience, also note that the glaciers high in the Andes mountains in South America are melting at an astonishing rate. Those glaciers supply almost all of the fresh drinking water to the large city of Lima, Peru (about 8 million people). The city is actively looking for alternative supplies, but 8 million people need a lot of water.

    A Russian scientist I work with has warned repeatedly of the danger of melting permafrost from the warming, particularly in Northern Russia. Here is a link to an MIT science journalism forum discussing a current piece in NATURE from a number of climate scientists concerned that the permafrost melting occurring now will release billions of tons of additional CO2 and methane into the atmosphere.

    http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2011/12/01/wires-etc-new-survey-sees-bad-news-in-arctic-warming-melting-soil-will-add-tens-of-billions-of-tons-of-methane-to-greenhouse-earth/

    I work with scores of scientists from dozens of nations, and all of them are extremely concerned about the real-world impacts of what we are doing to our atmosphere. And none of them, be they Russian, Austrian, American, German, Serbian, British or Swedish, care much about politics. And virtually all of them, whether they are studying the increase in landslides in Italy due to heavier torrential rains, or the increase of both floods and droughts in Poland due to weather extremes, would agree with the WMO statement that the planet is getting warmer and we are the cause.

  9. Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/02/2011 - 12:29 pm.

    @#5 – nice try, but you’re simply employing a favorite denialist tactic of deflecting attention away from facts you cannot refute with irrelevant tangents. Thanks for underscoring my point by running away from it.

    Were there no CO2 in the atmosphere, the planet would be an iceball. Atmospheric CO2 was 284 ppm in pre-industrial times (1832 antarctic ice core data), which kept the planet habitable and largely comfortable. Today it is 392 ppm and the planet is warming. The increase is entirely due to human emissions, and the rate of emission is accelerating. These are facts.

    I say again: CO2 retains heat. More CO2 means more heat retained. The rest is all just screaming and jumping around – i.e., politics.

    If you care to calculate the amount of energy required to warm the atmosphere and the ocean by even 1 degree, the amount of extra energy that is being pumped into the climate system should frighten you.

    This doesn’t even get to the release of massive amounts of methane by melting permafrost and methane hydrates, which Jim touched on in #10. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and will spike the temperature dramatically. That will not cause gradual change. The sudden massive increase in energy in the system will produce a tipping point that will cause sudden, violent climate change. Bank on it.

    Just think it through. The details of climatology are complex, but the overall picture is not. No one who loves their children would want to do this to their world. A moral choice is staring you in the face, and you are choosing poorly.

  10. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 12/02/2011 - 01:09 pm.

    What do we read in the paper these days, but power plants reducing outputs – we don’t need as much anymore. With the slowing economy businesses of all kinds are shutting down or cutting back – think of the kilowatts not being used, coal not being burned and Co2 not being emitted. Is this a reason to be joyous, or not? At least, it seems that agressive “global warming” policy and regulation is unneeded as it’s happening all by itself.

  11. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/02/2011 - 02:16 pm.

    Lance:

    Thanks for your compliment on my “try”, your tone insulting as always.

    Take a look at the Vostok Petit ice core data graphs, which are available online. There are CO2 peaks 140K years ago, 240K years ago, and 325K years ago. 325K years ago, atmospheric CO2 ppm was higher than it is today. Human cause, flatulent behemoths? Tell me the cause. If CO2 ppm today is certainly human cause, it certainly was the cause of the other peaks shown in the data.

    No one who loves their children would disagree with you.

  12. Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/02/2011 - 04:38 pm.

    @#13 – My “tone” is that I do not gladly tolerate any who would frak up the planet we share and that our children and grandchildren will inherit, and who obfuscate valid science with “truthy” sounding b.s., for the sake of short term political gain. I say again, this is an immoral choice, and I cannot respect anyone in that camp, and do not care if they are insulted by this. Truth often hurts, but we need more respect for truth and a whole lot less “truthiness”.

    The existence of variability in atmospheric gas concentration in the distant past due to non-human causes has nothing to do with today’s situation, and is another example of argument by obfuscation. There are no supervolcanoes blowing up today. There are no asteroid impacts setting off worldwide firestorms today. What there is is industrial activity and millions of internal combustion engines pumping out gases which are easily measured, and which are responsible for the dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2 today. This is fact. Throw out more b.s. if you wish, it does not change reality.

  13. Submitted by Robert Hoppe on 12/03/2011 - 08:56 am.

    Lance,

    “CO2 retains heat. More CO2 means more heat retained. The rest is all just screaming and jumping around – i.e., politics.”

    If the cause and effect of increased CO2 in the atmosphere was so simple, why (warmers ignore this fact) has there been no statistically significant global warming since 1995?

    To understand motives of the warmer extremists, follow the money.

    Canada, the country furthest from meeting its commitment to cut carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, may save as much as $6.7 billion by exiting the global climate change agreement and not paying for offset credits.

    The country’s greenhouse-gas emissions are almost a third higher than 1990 levels, and it has a 6 percent CO2 reduction target for the end of 2012. If it couldn’t meet its goal, Canada would have to buy carbon credits, under the rules of the legally binding treaty.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-02/canada-may-escape-6-7-billion-bill-by-exiting-kyoto-protocol.html

    $6.7 billion in carbon credits is just a fraction of the billions at stake in the global warming scam/shakedown.

    What about the children?

  14. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/05/2011 - 08:04 am.

    Robert:

    What about the children, indeed?

    Canada is home to less than 0.5% of the world’s population, about 34 million. As Robert noted, they have placed themselves on the hook for $6.7 billion. The math shows that each person in Canada would pay about $200/year, a family of five would pay $1000. For what? The flow of money does not cool the planet. It just takes money from families that earned it and need it.

    Lance:

    Thanks for self identifying as intolerant. What occurred to cause the medieval warm period, which lasted 3 or 4 centuries? Asteroid strike/global firestorm or supervolcano? In my experience, those that invoke children in AGW arguments, don’t typically have any.

  15. Submitted by Dale Hoogeveen on 12/11/2011 - 09:30 am.

    @14 Nail on the head.

    All you generally get back is the sarcasm and borderline ad hominem that resulted above. How these posters get away with that in light of the moderation standards I don’t know unless they are being given special treatment. Don Shelby has a regular crowd of some 4 or 5 names that invariably show up to heckle him. I would have thought that MinnPost would provide a better and fairer venue for its columnists.

  16. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/12/2011 - 04:40 pm.

    Dale (#17):

    Would this be a better place if everyone thought like you, and no one was allowed to hold Don accountable?

    It would be like repeated choruses of the same verse of the same hymn by the AGW Consensus Choir. There would be no diversity and we would all walk together in lock-step.

    I write columns for this paper; the list of hecklers includes the names of more than five regular commenters, and I welcome it; it is called a conversation, and sometimes it gets spirited. I can defend my position. When Don chooses to, he can too.

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