Global temperature hits record levels
Last year tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
While many regions experienced localized cold temperatures - and, boy, some of us did - the planet as a whole had its warmest year since records began in 1880; the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average.
For the contiguous United States, the 2010 average annual temperature was above normal, and the 23rd warmest year on record, says the NOAA.
Combined global land and ocean annual surface temperatures for 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest on record, at 1.12 F above the 20th century average. Global land surface temperatures for the year were 1.73 F above the 20th century average, while ocean surface temperatures were 0.88 F higher.
According to the Global Historical Climatology Network, 2010 was also the wettest year on record.
Weather patterns were unusual too. There were seven named storms and three hurricanes in the Pacific, the fewest on record since the mid-1960s when scientists started using satellite observations. By contrast, though, the Atlantic was extremely active, with 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes. The year tied for third- and second-most storms and hurricanes on record, respectively.
In the US, 2010 was the 14th consecutive year with an annual temperature above the long-term average. Indeed, since 1895, the temperature across the nation has increased at an around 0.12 F per decade.
Precipitation was over an inch above the long-term average, and snowfall amounts broke monthly and seasonal records in many places.
"Several NOAA studies established that this winter pattern was made more likely by the combined states of El Niño and the Arctic Oscillation," says the NOAA.