NPR logo Current Decade Warmest On Record With 2009 Among Hottest Years

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Current Decade Warmest On Record With 2009 Among Hottest Years

The decade of 2000 to 2009 was the warmest in the all the time meteorological records have been kept, the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, 2009 is shaping up to be one of the ten warmest on record.

The report was made as delegates from around the world met in Copenhagen at the global climate change conference.

Curiously, while nearly all continents experienced temperatures warmer-than-average temperatures during 2009, the WMO, a United Nations agency, said North America actually experienced cooler-than-average temperatures during the year. Perhaps that partly explains why, according to polls, Americans are less concerned about climate change than they were.

An excerpt from the WMO's press release:

Geneva, 8 December 2009 (WMO) — The year 2009 is likely to rank in the top 10 warmest on record since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850, according to data sources compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (January—October) is currently estimated at 0.44C plus or minus 0.11C (0.79F plus or minus 0.20F) above the 1961—1990 annual average of 14.00C/57.2F. The current nominal ranking of 2009, which does not account for uncertainties in the annual averages, places it as the fifth-warmest year. The decade of the 2000s (2000—2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990—1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980—1989). More complete data for the remainder of the year 2009 will be analysed at the beginning of 2010 to update the current assessment.

This year above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents. Only North America (United States and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average. Given the current figures, large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record.

Climate extremes, including devastating floods, severe droughts, snowstorms, heatwaves and cold waves, were recorded in many parts of the world. This year the extreme warm events were more frequent and intense in southern South America, Australia and southern Asia, in particular. La Ni??a conditions shifted into a warm-phase El Ni??o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in June. The Arctic sea ice extent during the melt season ranked the third lowest, after the lowest and second-lowest records set in 2007 and 2008, respectively.