"GENEVA -- Ice volume around the Arctic region hit the lowest level ever recorded this year as climate extremes brought death and devastation to many parts of the world, the U.N. weather agency WMO said on Tuesday.
Although the world's average temperature in 2008 was, at 14.3 degrees Celsius (57.7 degrees Fahrenheit), by a fraction of a degree the coolest so far this century, the direction toward a warmer climate remained steady, it reported.
'What is happening in the Arctic is one of the key indicators of global warming,' Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said. 'The overall trend is still upwards.'
A report presented by Jarraud at a news conference showed Arctic ice cover dropping to its second lowest extent during this year's melt season "since satellite measuring began in 1979.
However, the Geneva-based agency said, 'because ice was thinner in 2008, overall ice volume was less than in any other year.' It added: 'The season strongly reinforced the 30-year downward trend in the extent of Arctic Sea ice.'"
Robert Evans reports for Reuters November 24, 2009.