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Weather odds could become the norm

Soaring temperatures, shrivelling lakes and prolonged drought could be the new norm thanks to climate change.

(AP) Meteorologists have chronicled strange weather years
for more than a decade, but NOTHING LIKE 2007. Get used to it, scientists say. As man-made climate change continues, the world will experience more extreme weather, bursts of heat, torrential rain and prolonged drought. "We're having an increasing trend of odd years. Pretty soon, odd years are going to become the norm." The decade of 1998-2007 has been THE WARMEST DECADE ON RECORD. With temperatures 0.85 degrees Celsius above normal, January of this year was the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year. As the year progressed, American weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records. England had the warmest April in 348 years of record-keeping, shattering the record set in 1865 by more than 0.6 C. "For the first time in recorded history, the disappearance of ice across parts of the Arctic opened the Canadian Northwest Passage for about five weeks starting 11 August." The Arctic dramatically warmed in 2007, shattering records for the amount of melting ice. Sea ice melted not just to record levels, but far beyond the previous melt record. There were "devastating floods, drought and storms in many places around the world." And there were other oddball weather events. A tornado struck New York City in August. In the Middle East, an equally rare cyclone spun up in June, hitting Oman and Iran. Major U.S. lakes shrank; Atlanta had to worry about its drinking water supply. South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years. And on Reunion Island, 640 kilometres east of Africa, nearly 394 centimetres of rain fell in three days — a world record for the most rain in 72 hours.

The United Nations sent a RECORD NUMBER OF DISASTER ASSESSMENT TEAMS TO EMERGENCIES IN THE AMERICAS in 2007, offering a potential glimpse at the future of climate change. Nine of the 14 teams dispatched this year by the U.N. went to Central and South America, the highest number in history, including the FIRST EVER TO MEXICO. Previously, the highest number of missions to the Americas was eight, after Hurricanes Mitch and Georges in 1998. This year, U.N. teams were sent to Mexico, Uruguay and Bolivia twice to deal with severe floods. Teams were also dispatched to the Dominican Republic following Tropical Storm Noel, Honduras after Hurricane Felix, Belize and Jamaica after Hurricane Dean, and Peru following an earthquake in August. The five other U.N. teams went to Madagascar, Pakistan, and Ghana in response to floods, the Solomon Islands following an earthquake and tsunami in April, and Laos to help the country's disaster preparedness efforts. 10 out of the 14 missions, or 70 percent of the total, were in response to hurricanes and floods.
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