2002 is second warmest year since records began

This year has been the second warmest since records began in 1860, supplanting 2001 as the second warmest, according to the latest data from the World Meterological Organisation.

The global mean surface temperature for 2002 is expected to be approximately 0.50ºC above the 1961-90 average.

The record for the warmest year is still held by 1998, and the top ten warmest years have all occurred since 1987, nine since 1990.

Whilst the trend towards warmer global average temperatures has been relatively uneven over the last century, the trend for the period since 1976 is roughly three times that for the last 100 years as a whole, says the WMO.

One reason for this year’s warmer temperatures is the return of El Niño to the tropical Pacific. The magnitude of the current El Niño episode is smaller than that in 1997-8, but it has still been accompanied by its characteristic climatic anomalies across some regions of the world.

These include the countries in the northerly latitudes of the Southwest Pacific region, which moved from drier than normal conditions before May to wetter than normal conditions after the onset of El Niño. In September, some stations in Kiribati received rainfall more than 10 times the average.

Elsewhere, warmer than normal conditions occurred across most of Asia, and monthly mean temperatures in East Africa were higher than average for much of the year.

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