Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Global Weather .... Global Warming ... Climate Change

The past week has seen a north-south divide on a global scale. While cold and snow have held parts of the northern hemisphere in their thrall, drought and record-breaking heat are gripping some southern regions.

In Europe, Britain is not shivering alone. Periods of heavy snow last week in Austria, Slovenia and Hungary caused power cuts over large areas and caused some roads to collapse. The US was even more badly affected: a storm developed over Texas and the southern plains states and moved east and north, bringing snow and ice storms all the way to the north-east US and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Major snow and ice accumulations left over a million people without power.

Australia, meanwhile, was sweltering in its worst heat wave in decades. On Wednesday, the city of Adelaide, South Australia, recorded a maximum temperature of 45.6C, its highest for 70 years. Neighbouring Victoria had its hottest few days since 1908, and the Tasmanian town of Scamander reached a record high of 42.2C on Friday.

Persistent drought in Argentina prompted its government to declare an agricultural emergency last week. Rainfall has been below average since March, particularly around the Pampas region, where conditions are not dissimilar to those of the Dust Bowl of 1930s America. Meanwhile, heavy rain from Thursday onwards brought floods to southern Brazil.

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