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Climate: 2012 ends up as 10th-warmest year on record

Warmest La Niña year ever for planet Earth

Large parts of northern hemisphere land areas were cooler than average in December, but most of the southern hemisphere reported above-average readings. Graphic courtesy NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

Large parts of northern hemisphere land areas were cooler than average in December, but most of the southern hemisphere reported above-average readings. Graphic courtesy NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

FRISCO — Despite a significant cool-down in December, 2012 ended up as the 10th-warmest year on record for the planet, at 1.03 degrees above the 20th century average.

2012 will also go down as the warmest-ever La Niña year, and marks the 26th consecutive year with temps running above the 20th century average. The last time the annual average temperature was below the 20th century average was in 1976, according to the National Climatic Data Center’s global state of the climate report.

Most of North and South America, along with Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia reported well above-average temperatures for the year. Below average readings were reported from Alaska and far western Canada, central Asia, parts of the eastern and equatorial Pacific, southern Atlantic, and parts of the Southern Ocean. Including 2012, the first 12 years of the 21st century all rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record.

December 2012, meanwhile, ended up as the 18th-warmest December on record globally, despite some significantly cooler than average readings across a big swath of eastern Europe and Asia, as well as Alaska and western Canada.

Land-surface temperature readings in December were the 49th warmest on record globally, and only the 64th warmest on record in the northern hemisphere, but all that global warming heat is starting to show up in the world’s oceans — the globally averaged ocean surface temperature for the month was the sixth-warmest on record, despite the absence of an El Niño.

The southern hemisphere reported record-warm temperatures for the month over its land surfaces, with only a few small pockets in Africa and South America reporting cooler-than-average readings.

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2 Responses

  1. A little confusion on this story: was 2012 the warmest year ever (lead paragraph) or the 10th-warmest (headline)?

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