From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published January 25, 2010 06:47 AM

NASA: 2009 second warmest year on record

According to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), last year was tied for the second warmest year on record after 2005, the warmest year on record. If just looking at the southern hemisphere, however, 2009 proved the warmest yet recorded since record-taking began in 1880. Overall 2009 tied a total of five other years—four from the 2000s—for the second warmest on record. But, researchers say what is most important was that the past decade, from January 1st 2000 to December 31st 2009, proved the warmest on record.

"There's always interest in the annual temperature numbers and a given year's ranking, but the ranking often misses the point," James Hansen, GISS director, said in a press release. "There's substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El Nino-La Nina cycle. When we average temperature over five or ten years to minimize that variability, we find global warming is continuing unabated."


The map shows temperature changes for the last decade -- January 2000 to December 2009 -- relative to the 1951-1980 mean. Warmer areas are in red, cooler areas in blue. The largest temperature increases occurred in the Arctic and a portion of Antarctica. Map by: NASA.
The year before last, 2008, was the coolest year of the 2000s due to a strong La Nina event that cooled the tropical Pacific Ocean, however warm temperatures made a comeback last year as the La Nina event fell back. Even an unseasonably cool December in North America did little to stem the overall warming trend in 2009.

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