World warming unhindered by cold spells-scientists
By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The pace of global warming continues unabated, scientists said on Thursday, despite images of Europe crippled by a deep freeze and parts of the United States blasted by blizzards.
The bitter cold, with more intense winter weather forecast for March in parts of the United States, have led some to question if global warming has stalled.
Understanding the overall trend is crucial for estimating consumption of energy supplies, such as demand for winter heating oil in the U.S. northeast, and impacts on agricultural production.
"It's not warming the same everywhere but it is really quite challenging to find places that haven't warmed in the past 50 years," veteran Australian climate scientist Neville Nicholls told an online climate science media briefing.
"January, according to satellite (data), was the hottest January we've ever seen," said Nicholls of Monash University's School of Geography and Environmental Science in Melbourne.
"Last November was the hottest November we've ever seen, November-January as a whole is the hottest November-January the world has seen," he said of the satellite data record since 1979.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said in December that 2000-2009 was the hottest decade since records began in 1850, and that 2009 would likely be the fifth warmest year on record. WMO data show that eight out of the 10 hottest years on record have all been since 2000.
Britain's official forecaster, the UK Met Office, said severe winter freezes like the one this year, one of the coldest winters in the country for nearly 30 years, could become increasingly rare because of the overall warming trend. Continued...