2012 was ninth warmest year on record with temperatures significantly above long-term average
Average global surface temperature in 2012 was 0.56C warmer than the average for the period 1951 to 1980
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Tuesday 15 January 2013
Last year was one of the ten warmest years on record with temperatures significantly above the long-term average according to official assessments by American scientists released tonight.
The average global surface temperature in 2012 was 0.56C warmer than the average for the period 1951 to 1980 and, overall, the year was nominally the ninth warmest on record, although it was barely indistinguishable in rank from several other years, said James Hansen, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
Although global temperatures have been flat for about a decade, all of the top ten warmest years have occurred since 1998 and the “climate dice” are now sufficiently loaded for people to notice that unusually warm seasons are occurring much more frequently than they did a few decades ago, Dr Hansen said.
Temperature extremes that go beyond what is expected occurred in 2010 over a large region of Eastern Europe including Moscow, over Oklahoma, Texas and Northern Mexico in 2011 and in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains of the US in 2012, Dr Hansen said.
The analysis of global temperatures in 2012 by scientists at Nasa and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the rate of increase in warming has continued to flatline, although Dr Hansen said that this does not mean that global warming has “stopped” as some climate sceptics have claimed.
“The 5-year running mean of global temperature has been flat for the past decade. It should be noted that the ‘standstill’ temperature is at a much higher level than existed at any year in the prior decade except for the single year 1998, which had the strongest El Nino of the century,” Dr Hansen said.
“We conclude that the background global warming is continuing, consistent with the known planetary energy imbalance, even though it is likely that the slowdown in climate forcing growth rate contributed to the recent apparent standstill in global temperature,” he said.
Nasa said that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, the first year in the Goddard Institute’s temperature record. By 1960, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, measured at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory, was about 315 parts per million. Today, that measurement exceeds 390 parts per million.
Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at Goddard, said: “One more year of numbers isn't in itself significant. 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.“
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
If Surrey were Syria: Social experiment shows what it's like to live under siege
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...