It was another ecologically tumultuous year with;
- greenhouse gases rise to record levels
- Arctic sea ice nearly equalling 2007’s record melt
- temperatures the 11th highest ever recorded
It was marked on the ground by unparalleled extremes of heat and cold across the world, droughts and heatwaves in Europe and Africa and record numbers of weather-related natural disasters.
The 41 sea, land and air indicators used by the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to measure sea and land temperatures showed unequivocally that the world continued to warm throughout 2011. In July, NOAA reported that the last 300 months had all been above average temperature and that the 13 warmest years had all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. 2011 was additionally remarkable, it said, because a “La Niña” event was taking place, a naturally occurring oceanic cooling phenomenon that would normally bring temperatures down.
2011 was also the year of too much or too little water. It began with devastating floods in Australia which covered an area the size of France and Germany combined, and ended with tropical storm Washi killing nearly 1,000 people and making 300,000 homeless in the Philippines.
Massive droughts affected some of the world’s richest and poorest communities. The worst drought in 60 years gripped more than 10 million people and led to the death of thousands of people and millions of animals in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.
The year began and ended with drought and record temperatures in Europe. The average temperature for northern Norway in November was 5.3C (9.5F) above normal, the Danube was at its lowest levels in 60 years, and Germany and much of northern Europe had the driest end to a year since record keeping began in 1881.
So perhaps the ‘nay sayers’ might now begin to accept that the world is warming and we have some ‘interesting’ times ahead in terms of weather events.
Oh, and in addition, 2011 saw the world population reach 7 billion – just to make things more interesting!