Global Warming "Marches On"; Past Decade Hottest Known

John Pickrell in Copenhagen
for National Geographic News
December 8, 2009

The past decade has been the hottest on record, according to new global warming data released today at the Copenhagen climate conference by the World Meteorological Organization.

What's more, 2009 is shaping up to be the fifth warmest year since coordinated record keeping began in 1850, according to preliminary figures released by the Geneva-based UN organization. The final report, including December climate data, will be released in March 2010.

The new data, collected from land-based weather stations across the world, as well as by ships, buoys, and satellites, does not show a slowdown or reversal of the global warming trend, Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said at a press briefing.

Peter Stott, climate scientist with the Met Office, the U.K.'s national weather service, said in an interview, "The latest data shows how the underlying march of global warming goes on."

The findings fit with numerous studies supporting a long-term global warming trend.

Global warming research has been criticized in recent weeks in the wake of leaked emails from the U.K.'s University of East Anglia, which provided some of the new climate data. The private, "Climategate" email exchanges among climate scientists refer to statistical "tricks" used to support a case for global warming and, to some, suggest a stifling of data that runs contrary to global warming findings.

Questioned about the role of the University of East Anglia, the WMO's Jarraud argued that the new climate data has been verified by two further independently gathered data sets from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Extreme Weather Due to Climate Change?

The climate research revealed today in Copenhagen says that that global combined air surface and sea surface temperatures for 2009 have so far hit 14.44°C (57.99°F). This is 0.44°C (0.79°F) above the average annual temperature of 14.00°C (57.20°F) recorded between 1961 and 1990, which is used as a reference period, according to the WMO.

Most of the world's continents experienced above-average temperatures this year, with the exception of North America, which cooled down.

(Related: "Global Warming Could Cool North America in a Few Decades?")

Many other regions, including parts of South Asia, China, and Africa, experienced their highest temperatures on record.

Continued on Next Page >>




NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.