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New records broken for loss of sea ice and greenhouse gases in 2012

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels hit new highs, after a slight decline in recent years.

Record loss of arctic ice 2012Enlarge
(Joe Raedle/AFP/Getty Images)

The world lost record amounts of Arctic sea ice in 2012 and spewed out all-time high levels of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel burning, international climate scientists said Tuesday.

Overall, 2012 was among the top 10 on record for global land and surface temperature, said the State of the Climate report issued annually by researchers in Britain and the United States.

"Globally-averaged, 2012 ranked as the eighth or ninth warmest year since records began in the mid-to-late 1800s, according to four independent analyses," said the report.

"The year was 0.14 degrees Celsius - 0.17 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average, depending on the dataset considered."

When it came to Arctic sea ice, a new record low was observed in September for sea ice and another all-time low for snow cover was observed in the Northern Hemisphere, it said.

Meanwhile, permafrost temperatures reached record high values in northern Alaska and 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet showed some form of melt, four times greater than the average melt for this time of year.

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels also hit new highs, after a slight decline in recent years that followed the global financial crisis.

"In spring 2012, for the first time, the atmospheric CO2 concentration exceeded 400 parts per million at seven of the 13 Arctic observation sites," it said.

Droughts and unusual rains struck different parts of the globe last year, with "the worst drought in at least the past three decades for northeastern Brazil," the report said.

"The Caribbean observed a very wet dry season and it was the Sahel's wettest rainy season in 50 years."

On a positive note, the climate in Antarctica remained "relatively stable overall" and warm air led to the second smallest ozone hole in the past two decades, it said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130806/new-records-sea-ice-loss-greenhouse-gas-2012