Washington: NASA scientists have claimed that 2011 was the ninth warmest year since 1880.
The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis that shows temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century.
The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago.
The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.
Global temperatures have warmed significantly since 1880, the beginning of what scientists call the “modern record.”
At this time, the coverage provided by weather stations allowed for essentially global temperature data.
As greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, industry and vehicles have increased, temperatures have climbed, most notably since the late 1970s.
In this animation of temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.
“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting,” GISS Director James E. Hansen said.
“So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures.
“Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Niña influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record,” he said.
The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C).
This underscores the emphasis scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise.
Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year.
However, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades.
The first 11 years of the 21st century experienced notably higher temperatures compared to the middle and late 20th century, Hansen said.
The only year from the 20th century in the top 10 warmest years on record is 1998.