2012 was world's tenth warmest year on record

A map of global temperatures show the majority of the planet experienced warmer than average heat in 2012. NOAA

The U.S. experienced its warmest year on record in 2012, and the rest of the world was not far behind. Data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released Tuesday show Planet Earth experienced its tenth warmest year since recordkeeping began in 1880.

NOAA's annual State of the Climate report shows that global temperatures were a full degree (1.03 degrees F) above the 20th century average in 2012. It was also the 36th straight year with temperatures above the average. The world has not seen a colder-than-average year since 1976.

All twelve years of the 21st century are in the top 14 warmest years ever recorded. Only one year from the 20th century -- 1998 -- was warmer than 2012.

The record year saw higher-than-average temperatures over much of North and South America, as well as the majority of Europe and Africa. Colder temperatures over central Asia and parts of the Southern Ocean brought the global average down slightly, as did a chilly December over the Northern Hemisphere.

2012 also featured unprecedented ice melt over the Arctic. There were also major droughts over several major agricultural regions, including the central U.S., eastern Russia and Ukraine. Northeastern Brazil experienced its worst drought in decades.

NOAA reports that average global temperatures have increased by 0.11 degrees F per decade since 1880. That trend accelerated to 0.26 degrees F per decade since 1970.

  • Bailey Johnson

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