CANCUN, Mexico — A scorching summer that killed thousands in Russia and exceptionally mild winters in the Arctic were among extreme weather events that have put 2010 on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, U.N. experts said Thursday.
The data from the World Meteorological Organization show that the last decade was the warmest ever, part of a trend that scientists attribute to man-made pollution trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Europeans and some Americans may think it was chilly this year, but their unusually cold winters were more than balanced by searing temperatures from Canada to Africa and the Indian subcontinent, said Michel Jarraud, WMO's secretary-general.
He said temperatures through October were at near-record levels this year. Data for November and December will be analyzed early next year but are expected to be slightly colder than normal because of the late-year La Nina, a cooling effect on Pacific sea temperatures.
"The year 2010 is almost certain to rank in the top three warmest years since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850," the WMO said. The two other extraordinary years were 1998 and 2005. Jarraud said those two steaming years and 2010 were all within a fraction of a degree of each other.
The preliminary report was released on the sidelines of a 193-nation U.N. conference on climate change.