December 2010

Weather and Climate

Moderate to strong La Niña expected to continue into 2011 / Unprecedented series of extreme weather marks 2010


Moderate to strong La Niña expected to continue into 2011

Moderate to strong La Niña conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are likely to continue at least until the first quarter of next year, according to WMO’s El Niño/La Niña Update. Almost all forecast models predict continuation and possible further strengthening of this La Niña episode for the next 4-6 months or more, taking the event well into the first quarter of 2011.

The current La Niña developed quickly in June and July 2010, following the dissipation of the 2009-2010 El Niño in April. Since August the event has been moderate to strong.

Click here for the press release and report


Unprecedented series of extreme weather marks 2010 

© UN Photo/WFP/Amjad Jamal
  Flooding caused by monsoon rains in Pakistan has claimed up to
1 400 lives.

July and August this year were marked by an unprecedented series of extreme weather events.

Severe monsoons in Pakistan and other South-East Asian countries in August were aggravated by the La Niña phenomenon, well established in the Pacific Ocean. The water levels in northern Pakistan were the highest in 110 years.

China has experienced its worst floods in decades, with heavy mudslides. Over 12 million Chinese are reported to have lost their homes. By mid-August, China’s Meteorological Administration had issued more than 620 forecasts and early warnings, of which 223 focused on heavy rain, 176 were related to high temperature and 34 were typhoon warnings.

Meanwhile the heat wave in the Russian Federation triggered dramatic, massive forest fires, with some villages burning completely. Moscow had its warmest July since the beginning of meteorological records 130 years ago, with temperatures exceeding the long-term average by 7.8°C. According to Roshydromet, studies of the past climate show no record of similar high temperatures since the 10th and 11th centuries in ancient Russia.

In August, a 200 km2 iceberg broke off the Greenland ice sheet, the largest since observations and data were set up in 1962. While tens of thousands of icebergs calve yearly from Greenland’s glaciers, the size of this one resembles icebergs of the Antarctic.

It will take time to establish whether these events are attributable to climate change. However, the sequence is in line with projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for more frequent and intense extreme weather events due to global warming.

Research on extreme climate events is a focus of the World Climate Research Programme, with initiatives such as the Paris workshop on risk assessment (see next article).

Click here to see commentary on intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

Weather Extremes in a Changing Climate, 2001-2010




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