Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2009: Second Warmest Year on Record; End of Warmest Decade

The deniers of climate change have focused a lot of attention on the relatively cool global temperatures of 2008. A recent NASA report places that year into a wider context. According to the report:

2009 was tied for the second warmest year in the modern record, a new NASA analysis of global surface temperature shows. The analysis, conducted by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, also shows that in the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year since modern records began in 1880.

Although 2008 was the coolest year of the decade, due to strong cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean, 2009 saw a return to near-record global temperatures. The past year was only a fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest year on record, and tied with a cluster of other years — 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007 1998 and 2007 — as the second warmest year since recordkeeping began.

The image below shows how much warmer temperatures were in the decade 2000-2009 compared to average temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980 (a common reference period for climate studies). The most extreme warming, shown in red, was in the Arctic. Very few areas saw cooler than average temperatures, shown in blue.

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