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2006 Warmest Year in Netherlands in 300 Years

by: Anna Mudeva    13 December 2006

DE BILT, Netherlands - This year is on track to be the warmest in the Netherlands since temperatures were first measured in 1706, the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said on Tuesday, linking the record with global warming.

The average temperature in 2006 is likely to exceed 11 degrees Celsius in the Netherlands, beating a previous record of 10.9 degrees in 2000, Rob van Dorland of the KNMI atmospheric research department told Reuters in an interview.

"So far December is warmer than normal unless we get a very cold spell in the last two weeks of the month. According to our predictions, we will have average temperatures of above 11 degrees for the year," van Dorland said.

Dutch temperature records are among the oldest in the world. Methodical thermometer-based records began on a more global basis around 1850.

Experts have said that the average global temperature in 2006 is likely to be among the five or six hottest on record.

Van Dorland said the 10 warmest years in the Netherlands occurred in the past 18 years, which was in line with rising global temperatures and was a sign of a warming planet.

"If you look at trends, then you can say that this (the 2006 record) is a signal of global warming," he said.

The Netherlands was hit by heatwaves in June and July. The Dutch statistics office said about 1,000 more people died in July than usual due to the heat.

This year's autumn was also unusually warm in the Netherlands and other European countries, including Switzerland, parts of France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Norway.

The KNMI's climate scenarios envisage more extreme weather in the Netherlands and northern Europe in the next few decades to 2050. The number of heatwaves and extreme downpours were likely to increase, van Dorland said.

KNMI predicts that Dutch temperatures will rise by 0.9 to 2.3 degrees by 2050. The meteorologists expect winters to become milder and wetter, while summers will see more dry spells.

Global warming is seen raising sea levels along the Dutch coast between 0.35 to 0.85 metres by the end of the century. That is no small concern in a country where two-thirds of the land mass is below sea level.