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Long, hot summer of fire, floods fits predictions
Question of the Day
A warmer atmosphere can hold _ and discharge _ more water. The 2007 IPCC report said rains have grown heavier for 40 years over north Pakistan and predicted greater flooding this century in south Asia’s monsoon region.
China is witnessing its worst floods in decades, the WMO says, particularly in the northwest province of Gansu. There, floods and landslides last weekend killed at least 1,100 people and left more than 600 missing, feared swept away or buried beneath mud and debris.
The IPCC reported in 2007 that rains had increased in northwest China by up to 33 percent since 1961, and floods nationwide had increased sevenfold since the 1950s. It predicted still more frequent flooding this century.
In Iowa, soaked by its wettest 36-month period in 127 years of recordkeeping, floodwaters from three nights of rain this week forced hundreds from their homes and killed a 16-year-old girl.
The international climate panel projected increased U.S. precipitation this century _ except for the Southwest _ and more extreme rain events causing flooding.
Researchers last week spotted a 100-square-mile (260-square-kilometer) chunk of ice calved off from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland’s far northwest. It was the most massive ice island to break away in the Arctic in a half-century of observation.
The huge iceberg appeared just five months after an international scientific team published a report saying ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet is expanding up its northwest coast from the south.
Changes in the ice sheet “are happening fast, and we are definitely losing more ice mass than we had anticipated,” said one of the scientists, NASA’s Isabella Velicogna.
In the Arctic Ocean itself, the summer melt of the vast ice cap has reached unprecedented proportions in recent years. Satellite data show the ocean area covered by ice last month was the second-lowest ever recorded for July.
The melting of land ice into the oceans is causing about 60 percent of the accelerating rise in sea levels worldwide, with thermal expansion from warming waters causing the rest. The WMO‘S World Climate Research Program says seas are rising by 1.34 inches (34 millimeters) per decade, about twice the 20th century’s average.
Worldwide temperature readings, meanwhile, show that this January-June was the hottest first half of a year since recordkeeping began in the mid-19th century. Meteorologists say 17 nations have recorded all-time-high temperatures in 2010, more than in any other year.
Scientists blame the warming on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases pouring into the atmosphere from power plants, cars and trucks, furnaces and other fossil fuel-burning industrial and residential sources.
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