So far, 2010 is the world's hottest year on record, NOAA data show

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 14, 2010; A14

So far, this has been the hottest year in recorded history.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data showing that, from January to July, the average global temperature was 58.1 degrees. That was 1.22 degrees over the average from the 20th century, and the highest since 1880, when reliable records begin.

Although NOAA experts say global climate change isn't the only reason 2010 has been so hot -- an El Ni?o event earlier in the year pushed temperatures up -- they said it's still the most important reason.

"We would not be where we are without" the influence of climate change, said Deke Arndt of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

NOAA data show that last month was the second-hottest July on record, following July 1998. It came after a four-month string of broken records: March, April, May and June were all hotter than they've ever been.

Even if the globe cools down in the remaining months of 2010, Arndt said, the year seems on track to be one of the hottest of all time. "It'll be in the top three -- I can safely say that," Arndt said.

Among the warmest spots, according to NOAA: Finland recorded an all-time high temperature of 99 degrees on July 29, and China recorded its hottest July since 1961. Russia has experienced a severe heat wave, with a record of 102 degrees in Moscow and huge wildfires burning across the country.

The news from NOAA comes at a time when efforts to tackle climate change, both internationally and in Congress, have sputtered. Last year's international conference in Copenhagen produced little of substance, and climate legislation has stalled in the Senate over concerns that increased regulation will cost American jobs.

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