The first six months of the year have been thesecond-warmest ever and average global temperatures in 2002could be the highest ever recorded, according to weatherexperts in the U.K. It's heated up so much that the weatheris even causing train derailments. "Globally 2002 is likelyto be warmerthan 2001, and may even break the record set in 1998," saysBriony Horton, the Meteorological Office's climate researchscientist.
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeblames global warming for the rise in temperature. It says,"Since 1970 there has been a marked trend in the rise ofglobal temperatures. The actual rise prior to 1970 waspartly man-made and partly due to natural effects. But since1970 scientists are in fairly general agreement that warmingcan be attributed to man's polluting activities."
The Met Office compiles its figures from data collected fromobservatories round the world, as well as from ships at sea.
Amtrak investigators are trying to determine if summer heatcould have contributed to the recent accident that deraileda passenger train, injuring 101 people. The derailment sentbleeding passengers crawling out windows and left a 150-yardstretch of twisted rails and ripped-up ties. Workers, usingcutting torches and cranes, have removed sections of damagedrails for examination.
Carol Carmody, of the National Transportation Safety Board,says they have examined the train recorders, which aresimilar to "black boxes" on airplanes and provideinformation about the speed of the train and what theengineer was doing, such as braking or throttling. She says,"From the position of controls, the operation lookednormal." The train was traveling at about 60 mph and thespeed limit on that stretch of tracks is 70.
They suspect that heat caused the track to buckle, throwingthe train off the rails. Carmody says, "Heat can cause trackdisconfiguration just as extreme cold can."
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