Wed July 11, 2012 6:42am
Severe droughts, floods and heat waves rocked the world last year as the odds of wild weather increases, scientists say.
The details are contained in the annual State of the Climate in 2011 report, compiled by nearly 400 scientists from 48 countries and published in the peer-reviewed Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
The report itself remains "consciously conservative" when it comes to attributing the causes of certain weather events to climate change, and instead refers only to widely understood phenomena such as La Nina, it said.
However, it is accompanied for the first time by a separate analysis that explains how climate change may have influenced a selection of key events, from droughts in the US and Africa to extreme cold and warm spells in Britain.
"2011 will be remembered as a year of extreme events, both in the United States and around the world," said Kathryn Sullivan, deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"Every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment," she said, adding the reports shed light on "what has happened so we can all prepare for what is to come".
Last year was among the 15 warmest since documentation began in the late 1800s, and the Arctic warmed at about twice the rate of lower latitudes with sea ice at below average levels, said the report.
Greenhouse gases from human pollution sources like coal and gas reached a new high, with carbon dioxide emissions exceeding 390 parts per million - up 2.10 ppm from 2010 - for the first time since modern records began.