Aug 9, 2010

Analysis: Pakistan floods, Russia heat fit climate trend

Sukkur, Sindh
Pakistan
by
Alister Doyle
,
U.S.

Devastating floods in Pakistan and Russia’s heatwave match predictions of extremes caused by global warming even though it is impossible to blame mankind for single severe weather events, scientists say.

This year is on track to be the warmest since reliable temperature records began in the mid-19th century, beating 1998, mainly due to a build-up of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“We will always have climate extremes. But it looks like climate change is exacerbating the intensity of the extremes,” said Omar Baddour, chief of climate data management applications at WMO headquarters in Geneva.

...

Reinsurer Munich Re said a natural catastrophe database it runs “shows that the number of extreme weather events like windstorm and floods has tripled since 1980, and the trend is expected to persist.”

The worst floods in Pakistan in 80 years have killed more than 1,600 people and left 2 million homeless.

“Global warming is one reason” for the rare spate of weather extremes, said Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, a professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research