Icy start, but 2008 may be in top 10 warmest years
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - After the coldest start to a year in more than a decade, spring will bring relief to the northern hemisphere from Thursday.
Bucking the trend of global warming, the start of 2008 saw icy weather around the world from China to Greece. But despite its chilly start, 2008 is expected to end up among the top 10 warmest years since records began in the 1860s.
This winter, ski resorts from the United States to Scandinavia have deep snow. Last year, after a string of mild winters, some feared climate change might put them out of business.
In many countries crops and plants are back on a more "normal" schedule. Cherry trees in Washington are on target to blossom during a March 29-April 13 festival that has sometimes mistimed the peak blooms.
"So far 2008, for the globe, has been quite cold, only just above the 1961-90 average," said Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia which supplies global temperature data to the United Nations.
"This is just January and February, so two coolish months comparable to what happened in 1994 and 1996," he told Reuters.
The northern spring formally begins on March 20 this year.
And an underlying warming trend, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on human use of fossil fuels, is likely to reassert itself after the end of a La Nina cooling of the Pacific in the coming months. There were similar conditions in 1998 and 2005, the hottest so far, Jones said. Continued...