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Issue 32 - January 2015
!The Breaking Records Issue!

It's official: 2014 is the hottest year on record, that means since 1891. Scientists are a bit more surprised because 2014 was not an El Nino year (click here for definition). El Nino "is marked by the warming of surface waters in eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean" (Nature, News 2015), this may have been a reason behind the record-breaking year. But it was not. 

Temperature records have been broken on land and oceans, but the big blue takes the credit for the hottest year: "the 2014 record, say the agencies, was driven by the world ocean, the planet's great repository of heat. Temperatures at the sea surface have never been hotter than in 2014, in recorded human history" (The Washington Post, 2015). 

The year 2014 in Lebanon was a dry one. The fact that this January (2015) it was hit by severe storms which covered the mountains in snow does not mean that the worst is over. Climate change should not be perceived as the weather, because it varies from year to year and some may be hotter than others. Lebanon has seen an increase of its mean average temperature of 0.7 degrees Celsius from 1951 to 2000."Climate change occurs over many years, so a pattern of many hotter summers could be a sign of climate change. This is especially true if the same pattern is happening in many places around the world" (EPA Website). Case in point, 9 out of the 10 hottest years in the 135 years in which we have been recording temperatures, were in the twenty-first century. And now 10 out 10 with 2014. See a trend yet?

Temperature Anomaly
The temperature difference between the year in question and an averaged reference period, which is deemed to be normal (The Dictionary of Climate Debate)
26-30 January 2015

Global Environment Facility & UNDP Lebanon Mission
0.69 degrees Celsius

The average temperature above the twentieth century average across land and ocean surfaces which was reached in 2014 (NOAA, 2015)

Typhoons and monsoons gone wild

India and Pakistan experienced "severe floods caused by torrential downpours in September; over 100,000 people were displaced and 250 fatalities reported" (NOAA, 2015). Also an unlucky year for the Philippines, and as if the 2013 Haiyan typhoon was not enough, a large scale typhoon hit the islands this year leaving 18 dead and over 900 injured. Extreme weather events and climate refugees are indeed breaking records now more than ever. For more hurricanes and extreme events, click here.

Arctic disaster

The regions that are and will be most affected by future climate change are the poles. The more the northern and southern ice melts, the more the sea level rises, the more unbalanced are ocean dynamics and the more disturbed the weather patterns are. In 2014, "the Arctic had its fifth smallest annual maximum [ice] extent, and during its melt season, the Arctic reached its sixth smallest minimum extent on record" (NOAA, 2015). We better work fast!

The few storms that Lebanon has witnessed in 2014 were extreme; large amounts of rain overwhelmed the infrastructure and caused severe floods. 

© 2015 Ministry of Environment