The year 2009 is likely to rank in the top ten warmest since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850, and could be fifth warmest year, warns the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
This year above-normal temperatures were recorded in most continents except North America. Large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record, the WMO says in preliminary data released at the COP-15 meeting. Final data for 2009 will be released in March 2010.
Many parts recorded climate extremes, such as devastating floods, severe droughts, snowstorms and heat and cold waves.
The extreme warm events in 2009 were more frequent and intense in southern South America, Australia and southern Asia, the cooler La Nina conditions turned into a warm El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in June, while the Arctic sea ice melted by 5.1 million square kilometres compared to 4.6 million square kilometres in 2008.
India and Australia recorded heat waves; China, East Africa, and parts of Latin America had severe droughts; severe storms lashed parts of Europe and floods ravaged Colombia, north-east Brazil, and parts of Asia, and western Africa.
The global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 from January to October is currently estimated at 0.44 degrees Celsius above the 1961–1990 average levels.
T.V. Padma, South Asia Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net