2010 named hottest year by National Climatic Data Center

Smokestacks billowing smoke – and greenhouse gases – into the air at sunset.

Many in the scientific community believe that greenhouse gases produced by industry contribute to global warming. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/Demokraatti/Wikipedia)

It’s official, says the National Climatic Data Center: despite all the snowstorms, 2010 is tied for the hottest year on record, worldwide. Since 1880 when official world temperatures were first kept, only one year approaches 2010 as hottest year, and that’s 2005 – which is tied with 2010. USA Today reports that according to climate data, the Earth’s average land surface temperature last year was 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average for the 20th century.

2010: The hottest year on record

When scientists talk about 2010 being the hottest year on record, the operative part of that term is “on record.” The log of world temperatures only goes back to 1880. However, scientists have access to such things as the log books from ocean vessels. U.S. organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working to digitize the handwritten logs from ocean voyages that date back 250 years or more, and similar projects are ongoing around the globe. While no ship’s log is as accurate as the climate-measuring technology available today, such artifacts are among the best sources available to the scientific community.

The world has been above average since 1976

National Climatic Data Center logs indicate that in addition to 2010 being the hottest year on record, it marked the 34th year in a row that world temperatures were above the norm. Most of the globe experienced above-average temperatures, including the high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, Canada, Alaska, the Atlantic Ocean tropics, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the northern latitudes of Africa. Interestingly, nine of Earth’s 10 warmest years have been recorded since 2001, which makes a strong case that greenhouse gases and global warming are affecting the climate. The last time below-normal global temperatures were recorded was 1976.

Surface temperature versus satellite temperature

While the determination that 2010 tied the hottest year on record depended upon surface temperature, climate scientists also use other means to measure world temperatures. Satellite global temperature is another popular measurement that registers lower- or mid-tropospheric (air) temperatures. According to Professor John Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, satellite measurements indicate 2010 was .02 degrees cooler than 1998. While there’s little difference there, it does potentially poke holes in the 2010 hottest year assertion. Ultimately, it’s a matter of which tool a scientist uses.


USA Today

Wikipedia entry on satellite temperature measurements

2010 was a greenhouse gas heat wave, says Newsy


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