2010 confirmed as the hottest year on record – experts respond

AusSMC: Overnight the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that 2010 ranked as the warmest year on record, together with 2005 and 1998. In 2010, global average temperature was 0.53°C (0.95°F) above the 1961-90 mean.

These statistics are based on data sets maintained by the UK Meteorological Office Hadley Centre/Climatic Research Unit (HadCRU), the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Over the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, global temperatures have averaged 0.46°C (0.83°F) above the 1961-1990 average, and are the highest ever recorded for a 10-year period since the beginning of instrumental climate records. 2010 was an exceptionally warm year over much of Africa and southern and western Asia, and in Greenland and Arctic Canada, with many parts of these regions having their hottest years on record. Over land, few parts of the world were significantly cooler than average in 2010, the most notable being parts of northern Europe and central and eastern Australia.

The full press release from the WMO is available here.

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Professor Matthew England is an ARC Federation Fellow, and Joint Director of the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre:

“This is cause for concern. With much of the year in a cool La Niña phase 2010 was not expected to break the temperature records of 2005 and 1998. Taken together with other observations, such as accelerating ice melt, increased humidity, more extreme events and rising sea-levels, climate change is progressing at what should be seen as an alarming rate.”

Associate Professor Kevin Walsh is an Associate Professor of Meteorology in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne:

“This result is not surprising and is consistent with the warming expected from anthropogenic climate change.”

Professor Steven Sherwood is in Physical Meteorology and Atmospheric Climate Dynamics at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales:

“There is now a statistical dead heat for the warmest year globally, between 1998, 2005, and 2010. More important however is the continuing, underlying warming trend that continues as predicted from the net heating of the planet by added greenhouse gases. Every year since 2000 would have broken the record that stood in 1997, and the last decade was the warmest on record (and probably for thousands of years). I am confident that a new annual record will be set some time in the coming years, as the system hasn’t even caught up with the greenhouse gases already emitted.”

Professor Jean Palutikof is Director of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University, Qld:

“The news that 2010 was one of the warmest years on record will not be a huge surprise to climate scientists, except to cause them to reflect that, in a La Niña year, it’s an indicator of how rapidly things are happening. The greater challenge now is to understand how the worldwide devastating floods of 2010 and now 2011 relate to global warming and climate change.”

Ian Lowe is Emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, Qld, and President of the Australian Conservation Foundation:

“The data confirm the warming trend that has been evident for several decades. For 25 years, climate science has been warning that we would experience increasing average temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme events: droughts, heatwaves, severe bushfires and floods. Given the events we are seeing with an increase in average global temperature of about 0.8 degrees over pre-industrial levels, we should be worried about even the optimistic view that we might stabilise the temperature at 2 degrees above those levels, i.e. another 1.2 degrees from where we are now. We should be terrified about the consequences of the much greater warming that would be the result if the present inaction continues. In the context of recent extreme events, it is the height of irresponsibility to be considering new coal mines, coal-fired power stations and coal seam gas operations. We should be urgently driving the transition to renewable energy and urging concerted global action to slow down the warming of the Earth.”