The Heat Is Online

2010, the Wettest Year on Record, also Tied for Hottest

Figures on Global Climate Show 2010 Tied 2005 as the Hottest Year on Record

The New York Times, Jan. 13, 2011

New government figures for the global climate show that 2010 was the wettest year in the historical record, and it tied 2005 as the hottest year since record-keeping began in 1880.

The new figures confirm that 2010 will go down as one of the more remarkable years in the annals of climatology. It featured prodigious snowstorms that broke seasonal records in the United States and Europe; a record-shattering summer heat wave that scorched Russia; strong floods that drove people from their homes in places like Pakistan, Australia, California and Tennessee; a severe die-off of coral reefs; and a continuation in the global trend of a warming climate.

Two agencies, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reported Wednesday that the global average surface temperature for 2010 had tied the record set in 2005. The analyses differ slightly; in the NOAA version, the 2010 temperature was 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for the 20th century, which is 57 degrees.

It was the 34th year running that global temperatures have been above the 20th-century average; the last below-average year was 1976. The new figures show that 9 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since the beginning of 2001.

The earth has been warming in fits and starts for decades, and a large majority of climatologists say that is because humans are releasing heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide level has increased about 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution.

“The climate is continuing to show the influence of greenhouse gases,” said David R. Easterling, a scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Aside from NASA and NOAA, another agency, a research center in Britain, compiles a global temperature record. That unit has yet to report its figures for 2010. (The data sets are compiled by slightly different methods, and in the British figures, the previous warmest year on record was 1998.)

The United States was wetter and hotter last year than the average values for the 20th century, but over all the year was not as exceptional in this country as for the world as a whole. In the contiguous United States, for instance, the NOAA figures showed that it was the fourth hottest summer on record and the 23rd hottest year.

Still, some remarkable events occurred at a regional scale, including snowstorms in February 2010 that shattered seasonal records in cities like Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia. In the summer, a heat wave broke records in the South and along much of the East Coast.

New Climate Data Shows Warming World: WMO

Reuters, Jan. 21, 2011

Last year tied for the hottest year on record, confirming a long-term warming trend which will continue unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday.

The first 10 years of the millennium proved to be the hottest decade since records began in the 19th century, it said.

"The main signal is that the warming trend continues and is being strengthened year after year," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference.

"The trend, unfortunately, will continue for a number of years but the amplitude will depend on the amount of greenhouse gases released," the Frenchman added. "It will depend on action taken to minimize the release of greenhouse gases."

Jarraud said the latest data should convince doubters about the growing evidence for man-made climate change. "If they look at it in an unbiased way, it should convince them, or hopefully a few of them, that the skeptical position is untenable."

2010 was also marked by further melting of Arctic ice -- in December its extent was at its lowest on record, the WMO said -- and by extreme weather, including Russia's heatwave and devastating floods in Pakistan.

Rising temperatures, already about 0.8 degree Celsius above pre-industrial times, mean the world will struggle to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed by almost 200 nations at U.N. talks last month in Mexico.

Many experts see 2C as a threshold for dangerous climate change, like more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising seas.

"We have to act very fast and strongly" to limit emissions, said Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

He noted that many skeptics say global warming has stopped because of no new records since 1998, when temperatures were boosted by a strong El Nino event that warms the Pacific.

"But they cannot explain away the fact that nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2000," he said.

"Data received by the WMO show no statistically significant difference between global temperatures in 2010, 2005 and 1998," the United Nations body, which compiles its ranking from data provided by British and U.S. agencies, said in a statement.

Data from British institutes on Wednesday showed last year was the world's second warmest behind 1998, while the other two main groups tracking global warming, based in the United States, said 2010 was tied for the hottest on record.

Over the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, global temperatures have averaged 0.45 degrees Celsius (0.83 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1961-1990 average and are the highest ever recorded for a 10-year period since climate records began, WMO said.

The difference between the three hottest years was less than the margin of uncertainty in comparing the data, according to WMO, whose assessment is based on climate data from land-based weather and climate stations, ships, buoys and satellites.

The fight against global warming suffered a setback in the wake of the financial crisis, slowing funding for renewable energy projects and knocking momentum from international efforts to agree a climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2013.