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2009 and the ‘00s set heat records, U.S. study finds

Dec 8, 2009 - grist

WASHINGTON—The world saw one of the hottest years on record in 2009 and has notched up the hottest decade since records began, a report by a U.S. climate agency said Tuesday.

Scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found in a preliminary annual report that global land and ocean surface temperatures so far this year were the fifth warmest on record. The report compared current data with information dating back to the 1800s.

Temperatures from January to the end of October have been 1.01 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average, the report said.

A similar temperature rise was seen for the decade from 2000-2009, making it the hottest on record.

Ocean surface temperatures during the first 10 months of this year were the sixth warmest ever recorded, and Arctic sea ice covered its third smallest extent on record. Only 2007 and 2008 have seen Arctic sea ice cover a smaller area, the report said.

In the United States, average temperatures and precipitation—both rain and snowfall—were also above average, even though the Atlantic hurricane season had below-average activity, with nine named storms, only three of which were hurricanes.

The report, which NOAA stressed is preliminary and subject to revision, was issued as talks under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aimed at halting the march of global warming got underway in Copenhagen.

The U.S. analysis echoed a warning made on the sidelines of the climate summit in Copenhagen, where the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the past decade is shaping up to be the hottest since records began.

“The decade 2000-2009 is very likely to be the warmest on record, warmer than the 1990s, which were in turn warmer than the 1980s,” WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud told reporters.