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The world will experience global cooling this year, according a leading climate scientist.
The head of the World Meteorological Organisation said La Nina - the weather phenomenon which is cooling the Pacific - is likely to trigger a small drop in average global temperatures compared with last year.
The prediction - which follows a bitterly cold winter in China and the Arctic - is prompting some sceptics to question the theory of climate change.
However, the World Meteorological Organisation insists that this year's cooling has nothing to do with global climate change.
In fact, this year's temperatures could still be way above the average - and it is possible that 2008 will exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases.
Michel Jarraud, the World Meteorological Organisation's secretary general, said La Nina was expected to continue into the summer, depressing global temperatures by a fraction of a degree.
But he said temperatures in 2008 would still be well above average for the last 100 years.
The Met Office predicts that 2008 will be around 0.4C warmer than the average for 1961-1990.
It said temperatures are influenced by a range of variables - including changes in the sun's output, pollution and weather cycles such as La Nina.
But most scientists argue that the long-term temperature rises since 1880 can only be explained by carbon dioxide from human activity.
William Gray, the well-known Colorado State University hurricane forecaster, routinely uses the annual National Hurricane Conference as a platform to bash global warming. In a statement to Florida Today, Gray argued that the scientific consensus on global warming is bogus — and "a mild form of McCarthyism has developed toward those scientists who do not agree" that mankind is in danger.
"We are also brainwashing our children on the warming topic. We have no better example than Al Gore's alarmists and inaccurate movie which is being shown in our schools and being hawked by warming activists with little or no meteorological-climate background," Gray wrote.
The aviation industry is being unfairly targeted over climate change and future reductions in aircraft emissions should be based on technological innovation rather than regulation, Airbus chief Tom Enders said Wednesday.
"We think it's a little bit unfair that the aviation sector is singled out for attack by many environmental groups, maybe because we are more visible than other groups," Enders told a media briefing in Auckland.
"We are absolutely convinced that the solution is not new taxes, new constraints, but technology and innovation," he said.
Technical innovation has already made large commercial aircraft about 70 percent more efficient that they were 30 years ago and new technology, such as bio-fuels, would lead to further improvements.
"Roughly 30 percent of all jet fuel by 2030 could be coming from bio-fuel," Enders said.
This would come through a second generation of biofuels, which unlike some current bio-fuels, would not displace food crops, he said.
Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation, said temperatures in 2008 are likely to be cooler because of the effects of the La Nina in the central and eastern Pacific.
He said it was likely that the La Nina phenomenon would continue into the summer. If his forecast is right it would mean temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world.
La Nina (the little girl) and El Nino (the little boy) are two great natural Pacific currents whose effects can be felt worldwide.
Recently La Nina caused one of the coldest winters in memory in China, Canada and the Arctic and brought torrential rains to Australia.
Mr Jarraud said La Nina was expected to continue into the summer, depressing global temperatures by a fraction of a degree.
But he said temperatures in 2008 would still be well above average for the past 100 years. The Met Office predicts that 2008 will be around 0.4ºC warmer than the average for 1961-1990.
For the contiguous United States, the average temperature for March was 42°F (6°C), which was 0.4°F (0.2°C) below the 20th century mean and ranked as the 52nd coolest March on record, based on preliminary data.
Only three states in the contiguous U.S. were warmer than average for March (Arizona, New Mexico and Rhode Island), while near-average temperatures occurred in 39 states and below average temperatures in seven states.
On the Regional level, much of the U.S. experienced near normal temperatures during March. The East North Central and Northwest regions had below average temperatures.
Virginia had its second-warmest April-March on record with an average temperature of 57°F (14°C), which is 1.9°F (1°C) above the 20th century average.
March temperatures contrasted sharply with those in March 2007, when record breaking temperatures covered large parts of the nation during the last two weeks of the month. The broad area of near-average temperatures this year kept the nation's overall temperature-related residential energy demand for March near average based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI). For the cold season (October-March), the energy demand was 3.1% below the mean period of record consumption and was the 30th lowest value in 113 years.
This was the 35th wettest March in the 1895—2008 record. An average of 2.6 inches (65 mm) fell across the contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.2 inches (4 mm) above average.
Nine states from Oklahoma to Vermont were much wetter than average for the month, with Missouri having its second wettest March on record.
In the western U.S., the rainfall pattern in March bore a greater resemblance to a typical La Niña, with especially dry conditions across Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. March was extremely dry in much of California, tying as the driest in 68 years at the Sacramento airport with 0.05 inches (0.13 cm), a 2.75 inch (7.0 cm) departure from average.
March was the 5th wettest on record for the Central U.S. and the 5th driest for the Western U.S.
January—March was the wettest on record for New York and the second-wettest for Missouri and Pennsylvania.
October—March was the wettest on record for New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the wettest on record for the Northeast Region.
Lastly, the latest twelve month period (April—March) was the driest on record for North Carolina and the third wettest for Oklahoma.
Alaska had its 17th warmest March since records began in 1918, with a temperature 3.8°F (2.1°C) above the 1971—2000 average.
Alaska had its 41st warmest January—March on record, with a temperature 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 1971—2000 average.
Alaska had its 20th warmest October—March on record, with a temperature 2.2°F (1.2°C) above the 1971—2000 average.