U.N.: Wild Weather Matches Climate-Change Projections

Floods in Asia, a cyclone in the Middle East, and extreme temperatures around the globe since the start of the year have borne out warnings in a key climate change report, an expert with the U.N. weather agency said Tuesday.

"The start of the year 2007 was a very active year in terms of extreme climatic and meteorological events," said Omar Baddour, a climatologist with the World Meteorological Organization.

In May the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fourth report, warning that global warming would increase the number of extreme weather events and cause more natural disasters that will hit the poor hardest.

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Global surface temperatures in January — when Europe experienced an unusually mild winter — were the highest since records began. According to data compiled by WMO, temperatures measurements were 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the 127-year average.

The Geneva-based agency said April temperatures around the world rose 2.46 degrees above the average since 1880. Record storms, floods and heat waves have since occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

Hundreds have died and thousands have lost their livelihoods in floods since the start of the year in China, South Asia, Mozambique, Sudan and Uruguay, while the period from May to July was the wettest in England and Wales since records began in 1766, WMO said.

It said two heat waves in southeastern Europe in June and July broke previous records, with temperatures in Bulgaria hitting 113 degrees on July 23.

Other extreme events this year include rare snowfall in South Africa and Argentina, and the first cyclone ever documented in the Arabian Sea, according to WMO.

"When we observe such extremes in individual years, it means that this fits well with current knowledge from the IPCC report on global trends," Baddour told The Associated Press.

Baddour said it was too soon to say whether global temperatures for the whole of 2007 would remain at such high levels.

But he added that climate scientists had reached a consensus that weather extremes have increased over the past 50 years and that this trend would likely continue.

"There is no other consensus model than this one," he said.