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Climate check-up 'screams world is warming'

Lisa Millar, Thursday July 29, 2010 - 10:02 EST

A report on the world's climate has confirmed that 2009 was one of Australia's hottest years on record and provides more evidence of global warming.

Three hundred scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association compiled the report, which the association's data centre chief Deke Arndt says paints a compelling picture.

"It's basically the annual check-up that looks at the year that ended in a climate perspective and so you can kind of think of that as we all go to the doctor for our annual check-up," Mr Arndt said.

"But because 2009 was the end of a decade we wanted to take stock of a longer-term view."

The list of last year's extreme weather events includes a flood in Brazil that left 376,000 people homeless, heavy rainfall in England that damaged 1,500 properties and three intense heat waves in Australia, one of them coinciding with the Victorian bushfires that killed 173 people.

South Australia and New South Wales had their warmest year on record as La Nina conditions changed to El Nino.

Maximum temperatures were generally above normal throughout Australia, adding up to the second hottest year since temperature started being record in 1910.

Mr Arndt says the signs of global warming are undeniable.

"Each of the last three decades has been substantially warmer than the decade before it," he said.

"On a decade scale, that is very clear. The 1980s was the warmest decade on record as of December 31, 1989, but every single year in the 90s was warmer than that decade's average temperature."

Peter Thorne, of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, says the scientists were not swayed by the debate over climate data and whether it had previously been manipulated.

"What this data is doing is screaming that the world is warming, and that cannot be driven by any single individual or even a small set of groups, because the evidence is there to see - there are lots of groups doing this stuff," Mr Thorne said.

The scientists say the warming is due to greenhouse gases and while there were signs of human fingerprints, the report was not designed to attribute blame.

Tom Karl from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Service says the report does not try to make the link between the cause of global warming and what has been observed.

"This is the basis for the next step, because without this data it's impossible to take the next step," Mr Karl said.

The research is the first to gather all relevant data and update information from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change released three years ago.


© ABC 2010

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