Wednesday, December 19th 2012, 12:00 PM EST
Review of 2012 - environment: shrinking Arctic sea ice, record temperatures, flooding, droughts, hurricane Sandy and super-typhoon Bopha; the year abnormal weather became normal
When in September the Arctic sea ice that freezes and melts each year shrank to its lowest extent ever recorded and then contracted a further 500,000 sq km, the small world of ice scientists was shocked. This was unprecedented, yet there was nothing unusual about the meteorological conditions in the Arctic in 2012, no vast storms to break up the ice, or heatwave to hasten the retreat. Only widespread warming of the atmosphere could have been responsible for less ice growth during the winter and more ice melt during the summer, the scientists concluded.
It was, said the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), just one of dozens of major physical events in 2012 that convinced many people that the extremes have become normal.
The most dramatic event was possibly hurricane Sandy, which swept through the Caribbean and up the east coast of the United States, leaving hundreds dead and thousands without power or shelter. But just a few weeks later it was possibly surpassed in strength by super-typhoon Bopha, which roared across Mindanao in the Philippines killing at least 900 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced.
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Typhoons aren't unusual in the Philippines or the US, but both of these were well outside their normal timescale and location.
Officially, said the WMO, the first 10 months of 2012 were the ninth-warmest since records began in the mid-19th century, with early months cooled by a La Niña weather event in the Pacific. In addition, 2012 broke the record for carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.
Governments saw records tumble almost every season. According to Nasa, it's now been 28 years since the globe experienced temperatures cooler than the 1951-1980 average. Globally, 10 of the 11 hottest years have now been in the last 11 years.
Click source to read FULL report from John Vidal
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