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ENVIRONMENT REPORT – December 28, 2001: Warm Year - 2001-12-27

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Scientists expect this year to be the second warmest year ever recorded. They say average surface temperatures this year will be warmer than any other year except Nineteen-Ninety-Eight.

The World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland noted the findings in its yearly climate report.

The World Meteorological Organization says the higher surface temperatures are part of a continuing move toward warmer weather. W-M-O officials say average temperatures have risen more than six-tenths of one degree Celsius during the past one-hundred years. They also expect temperatures to continue rising.

W-M-O officials say the warming is a result of large amounts of carbon dioxide and other industrial pollutants being released in Earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun. This is commonly called the greenhouse effect.

Ken Davidson is director of the W-M-O World Climate Program. He says the greenhouse effect is responsible for unusual weather around the world in recent years.

For the report, W-M-O officials compared the current conditions with temperature records since Eighteen-Sixty. They found that nine of the ten warmest years ever recorded have been since Nineteen-Ninety.

Average temperatures this year are more than four-tenths of a degree higher than the average temperature from Nineteen-Sixty-One to Nineteen-Ninety. This was the twenty-third year that temperatures were above the average for that period.

The report noted higher than average temperatures in Australia, Japan and North America. It says October was the hottest month in England in more than three-hundred years. Denmark and Germany also set records for the warmest October in more than one-hundred years.

However, some areas reported colder than normal temperatures this year. For example, temperatures in the Siberia area of Russia dropped to sixty degrees below zero Celsius. Unseasonably cold weather also was reported in Bolivia and northern India.

Experts say many areas could experience extreme weather next year if the weather event known as El Nino returns. El Nino causes climate changes that affect Pacific Ocean waters near the coasts of Ecuador and Peru. In the past, El Nino has been blamed for flooding, dry weather and powerful storms.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by George Grow.