Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Record breakers

We've had so much record heat around the world lately that the records themselves are setting records: 17 nations have reached new temperature highs, a new record for records in a year. Pakistan hit (129F) 54C, a new record for all of Asia. Moscow had never hit 100F (38C) before; lately it's been a rare day when the mercury settles lower.

Now scientists have confirmed what's been pretty obvious: the entire world has just come through the warmest six months, the warmest year, and the warmest decade on record. Following the hottest June ever, AccuWeather.com yesterday said July was the second hottest July recorded – and the warmest ever for land temperatures alone.

Just in case those feel like abstractions, here's what they mean in practice: because warmer air holds more water vapour than cold, deluge increases. Hence, Pakistan has seen the worst flooding in its history. Because heat cuts grain yields, Russia has stopped exporting grain, spiking prices. Greenland? Guess what – heat melts ice.
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