Saturday, January 18, 2014

Climate catastrophe? Weather anomalies to double in 20 years – expert

Both experts and residents of various continents are surprised at the twists and turns of this winter’s weather. Christmas thaw was something the residents of many Central Russian cities have never seen. The coldest temperature of the century left the Niagara Falls icebound. A persistent heat wave in Australia with temperatures reaching 42 degrees above zero Celsius prompted the organizers to cancel the prestigious Australia Open tennis tournament.

Director of the Climate and Energy Programme of the World Wildlife Fund, Alexei Kokorin, believes that weather extremes will grow increasingly frequent in the next few decades due to the ongoing climate change. Weather freaks on all continents stem from one process and are related to atmospheric and ocean physics.
"Meridional air mass circulation has gained in intensity, so instead of enjoying the same usual kind of weather during summer or winter we have to endure, for example, a month of very cold weather followed by a month-long heat wave".

Kokorin points out that some weather extremes may be prompted by the planet’s natural climate fluctuations. But the anthropogenic factor, of human influence, plays the key role in atmospheric pollution and in boosting the greenhouse effect. According to weather forecasts, we shall see and have to cope with the effects of natural disasters increasingly often in the next few years.

"The number of natural disasters has doubled over the past 15 years. 2012 saw a record high number of natural calamities, while the number of those in 2013 was only slightly lower. But in 2011, natural disasters were at a record low in recent years. We should realize, of course, that the number of dangerous phenomena will most likely double in a matter of 20 years".

The expert feels, however, that one need expect no global climate catastrophe in the coming centuries and should concentrate instead on some burning problems, of which the gravest is the continuing sea level rise, making prospects for littoral areas look bleak. Fresh water shortages are likely to become another global problem. Countries from Portugal to China’s western border, as well as some areas of Africa, South and North America, and Australia may suffer water shortages. Water resources deficit may result in a forced migration of up to one billion people worldwide and consequently in a major change in the economy of regions.


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