If you think the weather here on Earth is "getting nastier, you're right," says Alex Kirby at Britain's Guardian. A new report by the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization — The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Extremes — concludes that the world experienced "unprecedented high-impact climate extremes" over the first decade of the 21st century, with more national temperature records being shattered than in any other decade on record.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud warned that "rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are changing our climate, with far-reaching implications for our environment and our oceans, which are absorbing both carbon dioxide and heat." How bad were the effects over the last decade? Here is a look at the wildest 10 years of weather the planet has ever seen, by the numbers:
Deaths blamed on extreme weather from 2001 to 2010, according to the WMO report. Deaths from storms and draught actually fell, due mainly to improved disaster preparedness, but heatwaves more than made up for the difference.
People who died in a heatwave that hit Europe in 2003, the biggest contributor to the increase
People killed by a heatwave that struck Russia in 2010
Percentage increase over the number of deaths reported in the 1990s. Much of that change could be chalked up to the planet's ballooning population, which grew from 5.3 billion in 1990 to 6.9 billion in 2010.
Years out of the decade's 10 that were the warmest since record-keeping began in the 1850s. The exception was 2008. 2010 was the hottest.
Degrees Fahrenheit (0.21 degree Celsius) that average temperatures rose over the first decade of the 21st century, compared to the previous decade
Degrees Fahrenheit (0.14 C) that temperatures rose in the 1990s
Percentage of nations that recorded the highest temperatures of the last half-century between 2001 and 2010
Percentage of nations that recorded the lowest temperatures of the last half-century between 2001 and 2010
Millimeters sea levels rose annually, about double the 20th century average of 1.6 millimeters per year
People affected in floods that devastated Pakistan in 2010. Two thousand people were killed. Floods were the most common extreme weather events over the decade.
Tropical cyclone-related disasters over the decade
People killed in tropical-storm-related disasters from 2001 to 2010
Estimated damages cause by these storms
Percent increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial era in 1750
Decades since 1901 that have been wetter than the last one