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2003 third warmest in 150 years

January 06, 2004 09:18 IST

The year 2003 turned out to be the 3rd warmest in the past one-and-half century. Also, the size of the Antarctic ozone hole expanded during the year to match the all-time high and the extent of Arctic sea ice touched a record low, indicating deterioration in global environment.

While the ozone layer shields the world from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation, higher temperature leads to greater snow melting.

According to the latest data compiled by the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation, the global surface temperature for 2003 is estimated at around 0.45 degree Centigrade (°C) above the 1861-1990 annual average. This makes the year the third warmest, just behind 2002 (plus 0.48°C) and 1998 (plus 0.55°C).

The separate figures for the two hemispheres indicate that the temperature remained 0.57°C above average in the northern hemisphere and 0.33°C in southern hemisphere.

At these levels, both the hemispheres have experienced 2003 as the third warmest year since the instrumental records began in 1861.

These are the preliminary findings of the report on global warming, released by WMO. The final picture will emerge in the updated report to be published in March.

The report indicates that the rate of change in temperature had risen since 1976 almost three times that of the past 100 years as a whole. In fact, for the northern hemisphere, the warmth in the late 20th century is believed to be unprecedented for at least the past millennium.

Antarctica ozone measurements have indicated that the size of the ozone hole has reached 28 million square kilometres (sq Kms) in September, matching the all-time record of September, 2000.
Surjeet Das Gupta in New Delhi