Global Warming Continues -
First 5 Months 1998
All Record Highs
From Discovery News Briefs
An analysis by government scientists has found that El Nino joined the Earth's continuing overall warming trend to break global temperature records in each of the first five months of 1998 according to the New York Times.
Last year, the average surface temperature of the Earth was the highest since it was first tracked in the mid-19th century. And scientists say global warming appears to be exacerbating the effects of El Nino, which have included droughts in some places and heavy rains in others.
"We set temperature records in every month since January, and it appears that this general warming trend is making the effects of El NiÒo worse," Vice President Al Gore writes in a statement issued by the White House.
In one sense, the temperature findings are not new. Surface temperature records have been set several times in the 1990s. But the year-to-year changes until now have been tiny, only in hundredths of a degree.
This time, the global average for January through May jumped half a degree from the same period a year earlier. In the last months of 1997 and the first months of 1998, the natural warming of the Pacific Ocean known as El NiÒo was responsible for much of the increase in temperature, scientists say.
El Nino has faded, so it's questionable whether the records will hold up for the rest of 1998, the Times says.
The January-through-May temperature jump was described as "really rather spectacular" by Thomas Karl, senior scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., who was in charge of the analysis. "To see every month breaking the record is rather significant."
A panel of scientists advising the United Nations has predicted that the average surface temperature of the Earth will rise by 2 to 6 degrees by the end of the next century, with a best estimate of 3.5 degrees, if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. This, they says, will disrupt the Earth's climate, causing climatic and agricultural zones to shift, increasing precipitation, making droughts more severe and forcing the sea level to rise.

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