Last week, NASA released data showing this last meteorological year to be the hottest ever in their 130 year records.
The meteorological year, which ended on November 30th, boasted a global average temperature of 14.65°C. This was an increase of 0.12°C on the previous warmest year, 2005, which had a global average of 14.53°C. The average is taken by measuring temperatures both over land and sea, and despite a natural phenomenon known as La Nina, which means the oceans are naturally cooler this year, the record was still broken.
Throughout the year, meteorologists have been debating whether the year will be the hottest on record. Up till the final month, the difference between 2010 and 2005 was too nominal to definitively say whether the record would be broken or not, but 2010’s November, with an average of 14.85°C, made all the difference. In spite of the frigid temperatures experienced by many areas of Europe, the global average temperature exceeded the previous warmest November by nearly a full degree.
The increase has been attributed to the dramatic 10°C rise in Arctic temperatures over the previous November record. The results, recorded in Hudson Bay, are most likely due to the unexpected lack of ice in the area. The missing ice usually covers the water, acting as a reflective shield, meaning that the majority of solar radiation gets reflected straight back into space. Without the covering, the water has absorbed far more radiation, accounting for the change in temperature.
Proof for global warming is hard to come by, but it’s hoped that this latest data will disprove theories that global warming had stalled after there had been no increases for 4 years running. Before the data’s release, the head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists, Rajendra Pachauri, was confident of the rise, stating, “The trend is overwhelming, particularly over the past 50 years.”
However, regardless of the apparent trend, global warming remains an area of fierce debate among scientists. Careers, reputations, and even large amounts of money sit on both sides of the issue. One of the biggest bets to date is a $10 000 wager on whether the average temperatures from 2012-2017 will be higher than those measured in 1998-2003. James Annan, a climate scientist working in Japan made the bet in 2005, with two Russian physicists who are sceptical about global warming. While the outcome of the bet remains to be seen, it would appear things are on track.
At least global warming, if true, will be good for someone.