Are there still any global warming deniers out there?

By: Susie77 , 6:27 PM GMT on January 19, 2012

Jan. 19, 2012

Steve Cole

Headquarters, Washington


Leslie McCarthy

Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York


RELEASE: 12-020


WASHINGTON -- The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the

ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. 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.

"We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting,"

said GISS director James E. Hansen. "So we are continuing to see a

trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a

strong La Nina influence and low solar activity for the past several

years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record."

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.

Higher temperatures today are largely sustained by increased

atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon

dioxide. These gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earth and

release that energy into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to

escape to space. As their atmospheric concentration has increased,

the amount of energy "trapped" by these gases has led to higher


The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per

million in 1880, when the GISS global temperature record begins. By

1960, the average concentration had risen to about 315 parts per

million. Today it exceeds 390 parts per million and continues to rise

at an accelerating pace.

The temperature analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather

data from more than 1,000 meteorological stations around the world,

satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic

research station measurements. A publicly available computer program

is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a

given month and the average temperature for the same place during

1951 to 1980. This three-decade period functions as a baseline for

the analysis.

The resulting temperature record is very close to analyses by the Met

Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic

and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in

Asheville, N.C.

Hansen said he expects record-breaking global average temperature in

the next two to three years because solar activity is on the upswing

and the next El Nino will increase tropical Pacific temperatures. The

warmest years on record were 2005 and 2010, in a virtual tie.

"It's always dangerous to make predictions about El Nino, but it's

safe to say we'll see one in the next three years," Hansen said. "It

won't take a very strong El Nino to push temperatures above 2010."

For more information on the GISS temperature analysis, visit:

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