GENEVA — Icy conditions that have claimed dozens of lives across Europe since November are partly due to La Nina, an upsurge of cooler water to the Pacific Ocean surface, the UN’s weather agency said Friday.

“The cold snap currently being experienced can be partly attributed to the La Nina phenomenon, which is a cooling of the sea surface in the central and eastern Equatorial Pacific,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

“However, it should be recalled that weather conditions are the result of extremely complex interactions, and, therefore, one particular event cannot be attributed to one specific cause,” the statement added.

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Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the Geneva-based agency, urged people not to believe that the extreme cold weather Europe was experiencing was in any way evidence against global warming.

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“The harsh winter in Europe should not hide the fact that the study of global temperatures registered since 1850, which is when reliable meteorological records began, undoubtedly shows global warming,” the WMO said.

The UN agency pointed out that although 2008 was cooler than 2007, it was still the 10th warmest on record.

Extreme conditions in recent days have seen: heavy snow in Marseille in southern France for the first time in 20 years; Madrid’s airport forced to close due to rare snowfalls; and more than 80 deaths from the cold in Poland alone.

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