The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in coordination with the American Meterological Society (AMS) released the 2011 State of the Climate report Tuesday. The report is a culmination of 378 scientists from 48 countries detailing global climate indicators and notable weather events.
“2011 will be remembered as a year of extreme events, both in the United States and around the world,” said Deputy NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan. “Every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment. This annual report provides scientists and citizens alike with an analysis of what has happened so we can all prepare for what is to come.”
The report makes this clear by alluding to events like the worst flooding in Thailand in 70 years, drought and tornadoes in the United States, flooding in Brazil, and the worst southern European heat wave in 8 years.
The global climate system was tracked using 43 climate indicators including greenhouse gas concentrations, lower and upper atmosphere temperatures, cloud cover, sea surface temperature, sea level, ocean salinity, sea ice, and snow cover.
Two La Niñas are presumed responsible for a number of notable weather events in 2011 including droughts in East Africa, the southern United States, and northern Mexico. The La Niña phenomenon was also associated with ending a ten-year dry spell as Australia experienced its wettest two-year period on record.
The reports says that warm temperature trends continue showing 2011 to be among the 15 warmest years since the late 19th century. It also notes that global average carbon dioxide levels exceeded 390ppm for the first time since being measured and despite La Niña, water temperatures rose at a record high. Along with it, Arctic sea ice extent has decreased along with Arctic ozone levels.
Links between climate change and the events of 2011 have also been released in a special article by the AMS. Although scientists admit the difficulty of connecting specific events with absolute certainty, they have been able to determine that La Niña related heat waves are 20 times more likely to occur in La Niña years today than during La Niña days 50 years ago.
The peer-reviewed 2011 State of the Climate is published annually as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. NOAA provides the report as a resource for government, businesses, and community leaders so that they may make informed decisions based on the data.