Around the world, disturbing new evidence of rapid global warming has come to light in the past few weeks. Past temperature records have tumbled. The warming is consistent with climate change predictions.
Victoria and Tasmania had their hottest 12-month period recorded, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on May 3.
Victoria’s weather was warmer than average month-by-month for year to April. Tasmania was warmer for 11 of the 12 months.
The average mean temperature for Victoria was 15.35º Celsius — 0.11ºC higher than the previous Victorian record set between February 2007 and January 2008. Tasmania’s high broke a 20-year temperature record.
The BOM said the Australia-wide mean temperature for the same period was the third highest recorded at 22.69ºC — 0.88ºC above the average.
On May 17, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that April was the world’s hottest month since records began in 1880.
It found the global combined land and water surface temperature for the month averaged 14.5°C. This was the warmest ever — 0.76°C above the 20th century average of 13.7ºC.
The NOAA also said the average world temperatures for January to April were also the warmest recorded for the period.
Taken separately, the global water surface temperature in April was the warmest recorded and the global land surface temperature was the third warmest.
Climate scientists have warned that Africa will be among the continents worst affected by global warming. New research recently published in Nature Geoscience said the central African Lake Tanganyika — the continent’s deepest lake — is now warmer than at any time in the past 1500 years.
The May 18 Independent quoted from the report, which blamed climate change for the unprecedented temperature rise. It said: "Our records indicate that changes in the temperature of Lake Tanganyika in the past few decades exceed previous natural variability.
“We conclude that these unprecedented temperatures and a corresponding decrease in productivity can be attributed to anthropogenic global warming."
The report said the warming of the lake explains a recent drop in fish yields. The Independent said about 10 million people rely on fish caught in Lake Tanganyika as a key source of protein.
Warmer temperatures are also evident in Europe. The May 6 British Guardian said a new study by scientists from Sheffield University estimated the British summer now comes about 18 days earlier than it did in the late 1950s.
The record-breaking temperatures have put a dent in claims by climate change deniers that the relatively cool winter in the northern hemisphere shows dangerous climate change is not occurring.
NASA climate scientist James Hansen told a Paris press conference on May 14 that the gap between the scientific evidence for climate change and public perception “has increased substantially in the last year”, AFP said.
Hansen said: “While the science was becoming clearer, the public's perception became less clear, in part because of the unusually cold winter in both North America and Europe, and in part because of the inappropriate overemphasis on small minor errors in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change documents and because of the so-called Climategate.”
He pointed out that “the winter was not cold if you look over the whole world: December, January, February was the second warmest [winter] in 130 years".
He also said: “We have to look at the frequency of events. Seven out of the last 10 winters in Europe have been warmer than the long-term average, and eight out of 10 in the United States.
“So the climate dice are being loaded at a rate which is in very close agreement with what was predicted a few decades ago based on the expected global warming.”