State of the 2010 Climate Puts it at One of Warmest Ever

Published on June 30th, 2011 | by

June 30th, 2011 by

Planet Earth suffered one of the warmest years on record, according to the 2010 State of the Climate Report which was published today.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in tandem with the American Meteorological Society, released their yearly report into the planet’s climate, which was compiled by 368 scientists from 45 countries and provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable climate events, and other climate information from every continent.

The 2010 report tracked 41 climate indicators, with each indicator including thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets.

In the end, the report showed that, despite several major cyclical weather patterns playing a significant part in the climate of 2010, the comprehensive analysis of indicators showed that global climate change is continuing.

“We’re continuing to closely track these indicators because it is quite clear that the climate of the past cannot be assumed to represent the climate of the future. These indicators are vital for understanding and making reliable projections of future climate,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

NOAA provides a list of highlights that save you from having to read through the very extensive report (which you can still read through here if you’d like):

Temperature: Three major independent datasets show 2010 as one of the two warmest years since official record-keeping began in the late 19th century. Annual average temperatures in the Arctic continued to rise at about twice the rate of the lower latitudes.

Sea Ice & Glaciers: Arctic sea ice shrank to the third smallest area on record, and the Greenland ice sheet melted at the highest rate since at least 1958. The Greenland ice sheet melt area was approximately 8 percent more than the previous record set in 2007. Alpine glaciers shrank for the 20th consecutive year. Meanwhile, average sea ice extent in the Antarctic grew to an all-time record maximum in 2010.

Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Level: Even with a moderate-to-strong La Niña in place during the latter half of the year, which is associated with cooler equatorial waters in the tropical Pacific, the 2010 average global sea surface temperature was third warmest on record and sea level continued to rise.

Ocean Salinity: Oceans were saltier than average in areas of high evaporation and fresher than average in areas of high precipitation, suggesting that the water cycle is intensifying.

Greenhouse Gases: Major greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise. Carbon dioxide increased by 2.60 ppm, which is more than the average annual increase seen from 1980-2010.

El Niño-Southern Oscillation: A strong warm El Niño climate pattern at the beginning of 2010 transitioned to a cool La Niña by July, contributing to some unusual weather patterns around the world and impacting global regions in different ways. Tropical cyclone activity was below normal in nearly all basins around the globe, especially in much of the Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic basin was the exception, with near-record high North Atlantic basin hurricane activity. Heavy rains led to a record wet spring (September – November) in Australia, ending a decade-long drought.

Arctic Oscillation: In its negative phase for most of 2010, the Arctic Oscillation affected large parts of the Northern Hemisphere causing frigid arctic air to plunge southward and warm air to surge northward. Canada had its warmest year on record while Britain had its coldest winter at the beginning of the year and coldest December at the end of the year. The Arctic Oscillation reached its most negative value in February, the same month several cities along the U.S. East Coast had their snowiest months ever.

Southern Annular Mode: An atmospheric pattern related to the strength and persistence of the storm track circling the Southern Hemisphere and the Antarctic led to an all-time maximum in 2010 of average sea ice volume in the Antarctic.

Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.