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Expect more ‘extreme and unusual’ weather in 2017: report

Click to play video 'Extreme weather data signals uncharted waters for future of the earth' Extreme weather data signals uncharted waters for future of the earth
The extreme weather from 2016 is showing no signs of changing course. That warning comes from the World Meteorological Organization, which compiled data from more than 80 weather agencies around the world. Jeff Semple reports.

The Earth is on track to see another year of extreme and unusual weather trends in 2017, say experts at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“We are now in truly uncharted territory,” World Climate Research Programme Director David Carlson said in a statement.

2016 was the warmest year on record, a new WMO analysis report notes, and with carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere reaching new heights, the warming trend has persisted.

“Extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.”

Already this winter, the Arctic has seen three “heat waves” and Antarctic sea ice was at a record low. These changes are leading to new oceanic and atmospheric patterns, which has a huge effect on our weather.

“Some areas, including Canada and much of the USA, were unusually balmy, whilst others, including parts of the Arabian peninsula and North Africa, were unusually cold in early 2017,” a statement from the WMO reads.

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The WMO used data from more than 80 national weather service providers for its analysis. The report’s authors urge action on climate change.

“The influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

Climate-change targets agreed to through the landmark Paris Accord must be adhered to, Taalas said: “It is vital that its implementation becomes a reality.”

READ MORE: How climate change will affect Canadians

Global warming doesn’t just result in warmer weather, it leads to more severe weather incidents. That can mean drought or flooding, stronger or more frequent hurricanes and snowstorms, tornadoes and wildfires.

Extreme weather and natural disasters took a record-breaking toll on Canada in 2016 — a staggering $4.9 billion in insurance claims. That prompted a warning from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) that we must be more prepared for wild weather due to climate change.

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“Severe weather due to climate change is already costing Canadians billions of dollars annually,” Don Forgeron, IBC president and CEO, said in a January press release.

“The record damage reported in 2016 is part of an upward trend that shows no signs of stopping. That is why Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry is calling on governments across the country to come together and implement expansive climate policies that will better prepare Canadians and their communities for when disasters strike.”

Last month, the National Research Council told Global News that Canada’s national building codes are being updated to adapt to the effects of climate change.

“We can see temperature-change trends, we can see higher wind-load trends, we can see evidence of wildfires for example in Fort Mac or Kelowna … in Calgary, where we’ve had these flood situations where they’ve knocked out entire cities … the codes need to start adapting,” said NRC program director Philip Rizcallah.

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*with files from Rebecca Joseph