Energy & Environment

UN climate agency: 2016 weather records a ‘cause for alarm’

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An official for the United Nations’s climate agency said he is increasingly concerned about the weather records that have fallen this year. 

In a Tuesday statement summarizing May temperature records, the director of the World Climate Research Program said, “The state of the climate so far this year gives us much cause for alarm.”

{mosads}Last month was the hottest May on record, according to NASA research released this week, and combined with March and April, it set a record for the hottest spring since record-keeping began in 1880. May also set a record low for sea ice cover.

In a statement, David Carlson, the director of the World Climate Research Program, said “we are in uncharted territory” as far as climate conditions are concerned.

“Exceptionally high temperatures. Ice melt rates in March and May that we don’t normally see until July. Once-in-a-generation rainfall events,” he said. “The super El Niño is only partly to blame. Abnormal is the new normal.”

The group’s statement blamed the since-dissipated El Nino for driving some high temperatures so far this year but said the underlying cause is increasing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. It cited new research predicting carbon dioxide concentrations of at least 400 parts per million throughout the year, which would be the first time that has happened.

“The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is rising year-on-year due to human emissions, but this year it is getting an extra boost due to the recent El Niño event,” said researcher Richard Betts. 

“This warms and dries tropical ecosystems, reducing their uptake of carbon, and exacerbating forest fires.” 

Tags Climate change NASA Weather

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