According to Prof. G.O.P. Obasi, Secretary-General of WMO, actions to achieve the objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are becoming increasingly urgent in view of the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the continued rise in globally averaged surface temperatures, and a growing number of extreme weather and climate events, some of which are of unprecedented intensity.
In an address today to the ninth session of the Conference of Parties (COP9) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is being held in Milan (Italy) from 1 to 12 December, Prof. Obasi noted that at the end of 2002, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) was 373 parts per million by volume (ppmv), an increase of over 33 per cent over its value in 1750.
The rise in global mean surface temperature since 1900 exceeded 0.6 deg. C, and the year 2003 was promising to rank alongside the warmest years on record. (WMO will release its annual statement on the status of the global climate on 16 December, 16h00 GMT).
Prof. Obasi added that each year numerous weather- and climate-related disasters occurred in different parts of the globe, some of which unprecedented in intensity. The influence of weather and climate on human well being, and the inherent impact on the environment, were evident in several events during the year.
Tropical cyclones in various parts of the world continued to destroy lives and property. For example, the Republic of Korea was affected by typhoon Maemi in September, causing over 100 deaths, 25,000 homeless and an estimated US$ 4.1 billion in property damage. In Pakistan, floods in July killed 162 people, displaced 900,000 and destroyed nearly 48,000 homes.
Drought affected the livelihood of about 23 million people in eastern and southern Africa. Thousands of people died in Europe and North America as a result of the impact of heat waves. Significant damage was caused by widespread forest fires that destroyed properties in a number of countries including France, Portugal, Spain and in Italy.
According to Prof. Obasi, the incidence of extreme weather and climate events, as well as changes in atmospheric composition and temperature require enhanced action both at policy and scientific levels. At the policy level, a number of measures had been proposed, including the Kyoto Protocol.
At the scientific level, there was the need to strengthen existing infrastructure and take new initiatives related to enhanced monitoring and research, reduction of uncertainties in climate prediction as well as the provision of climate-related services. Along with the services, Prof. Obasi added, adaptation measures should be undertaken to assist local communities to cope with and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
He said WMO would continue to mobilize all possible effort to strengthen its observation networks in support of weather forecasting, climate and hydrology, and to play a lead role in assisting its Member countries in support of the UNFCCC.Related Links
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Scientists "Reconstruct" Earth's Climate Over Past Millennia
San Francisco - Dec 11, 2003
Using the perspective of the last few centuries and millennia, speakers in a press conference at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco will discuss the latest research involving climate reconstructions and different climate models.
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