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Climate change continues despite slower global warming

Great Lakes nearly frozen over from coldest winter in decades.
Great Lakes nearly frozen over from coldest winter in decades.
Photo by NASA/Getty Images

A new study indicates the warming trend of global temperatures slowed during the last decade, yet the effects of climate change continue to wreak havoc.

The report, released on February 20 by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Kingdom’s Royal Society suggests the oceans are temporarily absorbing more than 90 per cent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gasses.

While warming may have slowed over the 2000s, 2014 began with one of the hottest January's on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their global analysis for January 2014 indicates that only 2002, 2003 and 2007 had a warmer January. The report also shows temperatures in most of the northern hemisphere were well above average, but the southern hemisphere suffered its fourth warmest January since recording keeping began in 1880.

Meanwhile, the United States is enduring one of its most miserable winters on record, according to the National Weather Service. Their Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index provides a numerical value based on the harshness of daily temperatures, snowfall and precipitation in the context of previous winters. According to this index, Detroit is battling its worst winter in over 50 years. Canada is also experiencing one of its most severe winters in decades with Winnipeg Ontario having its second coldest winter in 75 years.

Insured losses from damages incurred by the recurring “polar vortex” in the U.S. are already estimated to be over $1.5 billion, one of the insurance industry’s costliest winters in decades. According to Property Claim Services, a division of Verisk Analytics, over 175,000 insurance claims were paid as of mid-February for damages resulting from collapsed roofs, frozen water lines, fallen tree limbs and automobile accidents.

With three more weeks of winter remaining, another “polar vortex” is again gripping central North America for the third time this year.

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