Durban: Global temperatures in 2011 are the 10th highest on record with countries like Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar and the US were among the worst hit by extreme weather events, UN`s meteorological agency said today, warning of human-induced "irreversible" changes on Earth.
Giving a snapshot of its assessment of weather and climate events around the world in 2011, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said the year has been the hottest with a La Nina climatic event, which has a cooling influence and warned that the Earth was rapidly moving towards an over 2 degree Celsius rise in average temperatures.
The 13 warmest years have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. The extent of Arctic sea ice in 2011 was the second lowest on record, and its volume was the lowest, the WMO said in its provisional annual statement on the Status of the Global Climate, released on the sidelines of the UN climate talks here.
"Our role is to provide the scientific knowledge to inform action by decision makers," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said. "Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities," he said.
"Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs. They are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2-2.4 degree Centigrade rise in average global temperatures which scientists believe could trigger far reaching and irreversible changes in our Earth, biosphere and oceans," he said.
It noted that for the second year in a row, Pakistan witnessed severe flooding though this time more localised in the south than in 2010. It was also the wettest monsoon on record for Sindh province.
In East Asia, rainfall during the 2011 monsoon season was far above average, with Thailand and Laos most hit.
In North America, extreme drought affected a large part of the US, especially Texas, where rainfall for the first 10 months of 2011 was a record 56 per cent below normal.
In South America, Brazil witnessed the deadliest flash flood with landslide this year. In Africa, severe drought and then flood hit east Africa.
The WMO`s provisional statement estimated the global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2011 (January-October) at 0.41 degrees-0.11 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.0 degrees. This is the tenth equal warmest year since the start of records in 1850.
The 2002-2011 period equals 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record, 0.46 degrees C above the long-term average.
Global climate in 2011 was heavily influenced by the strong La Nina climatic event which developed in the tropical Pacific in the second half of 2010 and continued until May 2011.
It was one of the strongest of the last 60 years and was closely associated with the drought in east Africa, islands in the central equatorial Pacific and the southern United States, and flooding in southern Africa, eastern Australia and South Asia, the WMO said.
The WMO noted that surface air temperatures were above the long-term average in 2011 over most land areas of the world. The largest departures from average were over Russia, especially in northern Russia where January-October temperatures were about 4?C above average in places.