Wednesday, August 11th 2010, 5:10 AM EDT
The world weather crisis that is causing floods in Pakistan, wildfires in Russia and landslides in China is evidence that global warming predictions are correct, according to climate change experts
Almost 14 million people have been affected by the torrential rains in Pakistan, making it a more serious humanitarian disaster than the South Asian tsunami and recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined.
The disaster was driven by a ‘supercharged jet stream’ that has also caused floods in China and a prolonged heatwave in Russia.
It comes after flash floods in France and Eastern Europe killed more than 30 people over the summer.
Experts from the United Nations (UN) and universities around the world said the recent “extreme weather events” prove global warming is already happening.
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-president of the body set up by the UN to monitor global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the ‘dramatic’ weather patterns are consistent with changes in the climate caused by mankind.
“These are events which reproduce and intensify in a climate disturbed by greenhouse gas pollution," he said.
"Extreme events are one of the ways in which climatic changes become dramatically visible."
The UN has rated the floods in Pakistan as the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history, with 13.8 million people affected and 1,600 dead.
Flooding in China has killed more than 1,100 people this year and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.
In Russia the morgues are overflowing in Moscow and wildfires are raging in the countryside after the worst heatwave in 130 years.
Dr Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office, said it was impossible to attribute any one of these particular weather events to global warming alone.
But he said there is “clear evidence” of an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events because of climate change.
"The odds of such extreme events are rapidly shortening and could become considered the norm by the middle of this century," he warned.
Dr Stott also said global warming is likely to be make extreme events worse. For example, when there is more heat in the atmosphere it holds more water and therefore floods in places like Pakistan are heavier.
“If we have these type of extreme weather patterns then climate change has loaded the dice so there is more risk of bad things happening,” he said.
Professor Andrew Watson, a climatologist at the University of East Anglia, which was at the centre of last year's 'climategate' scandal, said the extreme events are "fairly consistent with the IPCC reports and what 99 per cent of the scientists believe to be happening".
"I'm quite sure that the increased frequency of these kind of summers over the last few decades is linked to climate change," he said.