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NASA says 2012 was the 9th warmest year since 1880, blames global warming

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies map representing global temperature anomalies averaged from 2008 through 2012. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

2012 was the ninth warmest year since annual record-keeping began in 1880 say NASA scientists who cited rising greenhouse gas emissions as the chief culprit.

“2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record,” said NASA in a statement posted on its web site.

“One more year of numbers isn’t in itself significant,” NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) climatologist Gavin Schmidt said. “What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade, and that decade was warmer than the decade before. The planet is warming. The reason it’s warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

NASA noted that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels now stand at more than 390 parts-per-million or 37 percent about 1880 levels.

Earth’s average temperature in 2012 was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6°Celsius) or 1°F (0.6°C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has increased about 1.4 degrees F (0.8 C) since 1880, according to NASA’s analysis.

NASA’s temperature record is based on weather data from 1,000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea-surface temperature, and Antarctic research station measurements. NASA GISS says that its results are consistent with findings from other institutions, including the the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

2012 was the hottest year on record for the continental United States, according to an assessment released earlier this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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