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NOAA: 2012 broke records; Latest sign global warming is here to stay?

On Tuesday, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in their annual State of the Climate report that 2012 was a record breaking year for high temperatures.

States in the United States, last year saw some of the highest recorded temperatures in our country’s history, which made 2012 the hottest year ever in the U.S. and the U.S. was also not the only country feeling the heat in 2012. According to NOAA,  last year was the tenth hottest year on record since temperatures began to be reported in 1880, and countries all around the world faced scorching temperatures.

“The long-term warming trend, including continual warming since the mid-1970s, has been conclusively associated with the predominant global climate forcing, human-made greenhouse gases, which began to grow substantially early in the 20th century,” James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and the lead author on a study of 2012 temperatures, wrote in the report.

According to the newest State of the Climate report, average temperature around the world last year was more than a full degree (1.03 degrees Fahrenheit) above the previously recorded 20th century average. 2012 also marks the 36th year in a row that the temperatures were higher than the average. That means there has not been a year that has been colder than the average since 1976.

Globally, the only year from the 20th century to have a higher average temperature than 2012 was in 1998. The nine years that world saw higher temperatures than last year were all in the 21st century between 2000 and 2011. In fact, every year of the 21st century thus far has been in the top 14 hottest years ever, with 2012 ranking tenth.

During 2012, much of the world experienced abnormally high temperatures. Almost all of North and South America saw elevated temperatures, as well as most of Europe and Africa.

However, not every nation was sweltering in 2012 as Central Asia and some areas in the Southern Ocean experience colder than normal temperatures, which brought the global average down in 2012. In addition, much of the Northern Hemisphere saw colder than usual temperatures throughout December, lowering the average even further.

2012 was not just a year from record temperatures, but also a record number of weather related anomalies. Measurements taken in the Arctic have revealed that last year a record breaking amount of ice melted into the ocean.

In addition, droughts rocked areas of the Earth including the central U.S., eastern Russia, and Ukraine. These droughts were especially devastating because of the agriculture business that these areas depend on. Northeastern Brazil also got hit my draughts as 2012 marked the country’s worst drought year in the last few decades.

There now appears to be a trend taking place in the 21st century as each year is added to the top 15 hottest years in history. The NOAA previously estimated that the global temperature was rising by 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit every decade since recording began in 1880. Further reports by the NOAA have revealed that beginning in 1970, temperatures have been increasing an average of 0.26 degrees Fahrenheit every decade.