* 2011 was among 15 warmest years globally – U.S. agency
* Extreme weather events show influence of climate change
* Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere reaches new high
By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) – Climate change increased the odds for the kind of extreme weather that prevailed in 2011, a year that saw severe drought in Texas, unusual heat in England and was one of the 15 warmest years on record, scientists reported on Tuesday.
Overall, 2011 was a year of extreme events – from historic droughts in East Africa, northern Mexico and the southern United States to an above-average cyclone season in the North Atlantic and the end of Australia’s wettest two-year period ever, scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom’s Met Office said.
In the 22nd annual “State of the Climate” report, experts also found the Arctic was warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, on average, with Arctic sea ice shrinking to its second-smallest recorded size.