2012 makes top ten list of world’s hottest years ever

Scott Sutherland

As announcements were made last week that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States, scientists at NOAA and NASA were quietly tallying the numbers from around the world, and they released their results yesterday: 2012 was one of the world's top ten hottest years ever!

According to NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — the average global temperature for 2012 was 14.47°C, 0.57 degrees higher than the 20th century average (13.9°C). This ranks it as 10th on the list of the world's hottest years on record since 1880. Taking only land temperatures into consideration, the year ranked as 7th hottest on record, and 2012 topped the list as the #1 hottest La Niña year on record (with 2011 in the #2 spot).

[ Related: 2012 may be one of the hottest years on record for Canada ]

NASA — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — which uses slightly different methods in calculating its temperature averages, ranks last year as 9th hottest on record, with an overall average global temperature of 14.6 degrees C. They also state that global average temperatures have risen by 0.8 degrees C since 1880, when official temperature records began.

The slight differences between these numbers are pretty insignificant when taken into context with the fact that, of the top ten world's hottest years, nine of those were in the last decade. 2010 and 2005 ranked as #1 and #2 on that list, respectively, and 1998 is the only year on that list not from the past 10 years.

"One more year of numbers isn't in itself significant," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, according to the NASA press release. "What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade, and that decade was warmer than the decade before. The planet is warming. The reason it's warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."

These announcements come despite a disturbing bit of pseudoscience that has been making its rounds on the Internet — namely an article in the UK Daily Mail stating that global warming stopped 16 years ago. The UK Met office (which the aforementioned article supposedly got its info from) immediately responded with a rebuttal to correct the misconceptions presented in the article (the graph at the bottom of that rebuttal post is quite evocative)!

[ More Geekquinox: Canadian robot on space station performs first satellite refuelling tests ]

The following video, originally posted on Skeptical Science is an excellent little 2-minute explanation showing, quite clearly, that the warming trend has continued, and it has not even slowed down at all.