Winter Consistent with Trends Toward a Warmer/Wetter World " A special summary on the nation's unusual winter weather and climate extremes has been issued by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency announced today. The report provides highlights on the country's unique weather during the height of the El Nino, from December 1997 through March 1998. "This winter's El Nino ranks as one of the major climatic events of this century," said D. James Baker, Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. "The country as a whole saw the warmest and wettest January and February in the past 104 years. Rainfall records dating back to 1884 were broken in California, and temperature records from 1890 were broken in Ohio." "When you look more closely at the numbers, you also see that this record-breaking El Nino is consistent with a worldwide trend over the last 40 years toward a warmer and wetter world," said Baker. This winter's El Nino, in a sense, provides us a window on the future," said Baker. "We can't draw a causal link between El Nino and global warming," said Baker. "But our modeling tells us that global warming may first manifest itself in changes in weather patterns. In other words, this winter's El Nino is a taste of what we might expect if the earth warms as we now project," said Baker. There is broad scientific consensus that the evidence points to a discernible human influence on global climate. Climate records indicate that a warming of the earth is occurring, and human activity is contributing to it. The average global temperature rose 1.1 degrees (F) over the past century and is projected to rise another 2 to 6 degrees by 2100. This is a faster rate of change than any that's occurred on the planet in the last 10,000 years. "It is difficult to predict with any precision the impacts on any given area," said Baker. "we have studies under way to develop a clearer picture of potential impacts on different regions of the United States." The report is available through NOAA's World Wide Web site for reporters at: http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov"

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