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2012: 9th Warmest Year Since 1880, Find NASA Scientists

By Countercurrents.org

17 January, 2013

2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, said NASA scientists. They apprehend on the current course of GHG increases each successive decade to be warmer than the previous decade.

The scientists said: 2012 was continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.

The NASA news [1] said:

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis January 15, 2013 that compares temperatures around the globe in 2012 to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago.

The average temperature in 2012 was about 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 Celsius), which is 1.0 F (0.6 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has risen about 1.4 degrees F (0.8 C) since 1880, according to the new analysis.

Scientists emphasize that weather patterns always will cause fluctuations in average temperature from year to year, but the continued increase in greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere assures a long-term rise in global temperatures. Each successive year will not necessarily be warmer than the year before, but on the current course of greenhouse gas increases, scientists expect each successive decade to be warmer than the previous decade.

"One more year of numbers isn't in itself significant," GISS climatologist Gavin Schmidt said. "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."

Driven by increasing man-made emissions, the level of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has been rising consistently for decades.

The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, the first year in the GISS 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.
"The U.S. temperatures in the summer of 2012 are an example of a new trend of outlying seasonal extremes that are warmer than the hottest seasonal temperatures of the mid-20th century," GISS director James E. Hansen said. "The climate dice are now loaded. Some seasons still will be cooler than the long-term average, but the perceptive person should notice that the frequency of unusually warm extremes is increasing. It is the extremes that have the most impact on people and other life on the planet."

The temperature analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1,000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea-surface temperature, and Antarctic research station measurements. A publicly available computer program is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period functions as a baseline for the analysis. The last year that experienced cooler temperatures than the 1951 to 1980 average was 1976.

The GISS temperature record is one of several global temperature analyses, along with those produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. These three primary records use slightly different methods, but overall, their trends show close agreement.

In another news report [2], Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk said:

NOAA scientists say 2012 global temperature records further consolidate a pattern of global warming.

2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record, rising above the long-term average for the 36th year in a row, according to data released on January 15, 2013.

Temperature records compiled separately by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found global surface temperatures rose 1.03F above the long-term average last year, but did not match America's record-breaking heat.

By NASA's records, that makes 2012 the ninth hottest year on record globally. NOAA's data set put it at the 10th hottest year. The agencies use different methods to analyze data.

In both cases, scientists said the 2012 global temperature records further consolidate a pattern of global warming. Each year of the 21st century has ranked among the 14 hottest since record keeping began in 1880.

With 36 years of above-average temperatures, nobody born since 1976 has lived through a colder than average year.

Tom Karl, director of NOAA's national climatic data centre, told a reporters' conference call the US temperatures were "remarkable".

According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA, the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8C (1.4F) since 1880, (left 1880-1889) compared to today (right 2000-2009). Photograph: GISS/NASA

"The planet is out of balance and therefore we can predict with confidence that the next decade is going to be warmer," James Hansen said.

Aside from the US, and South America, most of Europe, Africa, western, southern, and far north-eastern Asia experienced above-average temperatures.
Other parts of the world were unusually cooler than average, including most of Alaska, far western Canada, and central Asia, NOAA said.

Britain also experienced slightly below average temperatures, at 0.2F below the 1981-2010 average, which was attributed to the cool summer and autumn. Britain also experienced its second wettest year since records began in 2010.
Other records highlighted by NOAA included the extreme drought across the mid-western United States, and other important farming regions including parts of Russia and Ukraine.
The Arctic experienced record low sea ice throughout the year, with sea ice cover dropping to 1.32m square miles, the lowest value ever recorded, in September 2012.


[1] NASA Global Climate Change news, Jan 15, 2013, “NASA Finds 2012 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend”,

[2] Jan 16, 2013“2012 among the 10 warmest years on record, figures show”,




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