Paris (AFP) - Meteorologists have yet to formally link global warming to typhoons like the one that devastated the Philippines, but they expect increasingly extreme weather phenomena due to a rise in ocean temperatures.
The trail of death and destruction left in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan was at the forefront of a new round of United Nations climate talks that opened Monday in Poland, as Philippine authorities warned some 10,000 people may have died.
Haiyan -- the most powerful typhoon to make landfall ever recorded -- swept over the Philippines Friday, just days before the 12-day UN climate talks opened in Warsaw to a slew of warnings about potentially disastrous warming with increasingly extreme weather phenomena.
"There is a tendency of (oceans) warming up and an increase in the intensity of cyclones is part of the risks," said Herve Le Treut, a Paris university professor and climatologist.
Typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones are different names given to the same powerful weather phenomenon according to the region it hits, but meteorologists use the generic term "cyclone" when talking generally about these super storms.
In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandated by the United Nations to make scientific assessments about the risks of climate change, concluded in a report that it was "virtually certain that the upper ocean... warmed from 1971 to 2010".
It is estimated that temperatures rose by around 0.1 degrees Celsius par decade down to a depth of 75 metres (246 feet), and even warmed a little further down.
Meteorologists believe that the upper ocean also got warmer during the first half of the 20th century, but whether the rise in ocean temperatures is caused by man or by natural changes on the planet is still being debated.