Scientists say 2012 among 10 hottest years on record

16 Jan 2013

Map representing global temperature anomalies averaged from 2008 through to 2012. Image via NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

On a global level, 2012 is among the 10 warmest years since records began to be kept in 1880. That’s according to two separate reports released by scientists at both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week.

According to scientists at NASA, 2012 has been the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, while NOAA scientists said global average temperatures for 2012 marked the 10th warmest year since 1880.

Both agencies said greenhouse gas emissions were chiefly responsible for the rise in temperatures over the past 50 years.

NASA said that, excluding the year 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have happened since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) issued an updated analysis yesterday that compared temperatures around the globe in 2012 to temperatures from the mid-20th century.

According to GISS, the average temperature in 2012 was around 58.3° F (14.6°C), which is 1.0°F (0.6°C) warmer than the mid-20th-century baseline.

The new analysis from NASA predicts that the average global temperature has risen by about 1.4°F (0.8°C) since 1880.

A warming planet …

Based on the current course of greenhouse gas increases, NASA scientists expect each successive decade to be warmer than the previous decade.

“One more year of numbers isn’t in itself significant,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist with GISS. “What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade, and that decade was warmer than the decade before. The planet is warming. The reason it’s warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Scientists at NOAA said 2012 has been the 10th warmest year on record. The agency said that globally, averaged annual combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the 20th-century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C).

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic