A new 'climate normal'

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SummaryA 2012 State of the Climate report released last week re-established that last year

A 2012 State of the Climate report released last week re-established that last year was one of the 10 hottest on record, with extreme weather in various corners of the globe signalling a “new normal”. Meant to be a guide for policymakers, the report did not attribute the changes in climate to any one factor, but made note of continued increases in heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The report drew contributions from 384 scientists from 52 countries. Its conclusions:

* Global surface temperatures — land and water — were the eighth or ninth warmest ever

* In the decade leading up to 2012, global temperatures actually declined by .05 degrees C, though 50-year trend indicates global temperatures increased about .15 degree C per decade

* Sea levels reached a record high, after a sharp decrease in 2011 possibly linked to the phenomenon La Nina

* Arctic sea ice shrank to its smallest summer minimum since satellite records began 34 years ago, while Antarctic sea ice reached a record high

* More than 97 per cent of the ice sheet covering Greenland melted at least a bit in the summer of 2012, four times greater than the 1981-2010 average

* Ocean heat was near record high levels in the upper .8 km of water; temperatures also increased in the deep ocean

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