WASHINGTON (AP) — A new massive federal study says the world in 2012 sweltered with continued signs of climate change. Rising sea levels, snow melt, heat buildup in the oceans, and melting Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheets, all broke or nearly broke records, but temperatures only sneaked into the top 10.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday issued a peer-reviewed 260-page report, which agency chief Kathryn Sullivan calls its annual "checking on the pulse of the planet." The report, written by 384 scientists around the world, compiles data already released, but it puts them in context of what's been happening to Earth over decades.
"It's critically important to compile a big picture," National Climatic Data Center director Tom Karl says. "The signs that we see are of a warming world."
Sullivan says what is noticeable "are remarkable changes in key climate indicators," mentioning dramatic spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer, and whopping temporary melts of ice in most of Greenland last year. The data also shows a record-high sea level.
The most noticeable and startling changes seen were in the Arctic, says report co-editor Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief at the data center. Breaking records in the Arctic is so common that it is becoming the new normal, says study co-author Jackie Richter-Menge of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.
Karl says when looked at together, all the indicators show a climate that is changing over the decades. Individually, however, the story isn't as simple.
Karl says surface temperatures haven't risen in the last 10 years, but he notes that is only a blip in time due to natural variability. When looking at more scientifically meaningful time frames of 30 years, 50 years and more than 100 years, temperatures are rising quite a bit, Karl said. Since records have been kept in 1880, all 10 of the warm
Posted: 08 Aug 2013 05:00 PM PDT
Global temperatures have warmed significantly since 1880, the beginning
of what scientists call the "modern record." In this animation of temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.
A sobering report on the "State of the Climate," and our planet, Earth. Last year was one of the 10 warmest years on record, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday. While the past 150 years have seen average temperatures rise 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have been since the 1990s—with 2012 ranking somewhere around 8 or 9. Arctic sea ice reached record lows during the summer, while 97 percent of all of Greenland ice melted in the winter—far more than average. Of particular importance in the NOAA report was the rise in ocean heat storage, which reached record levels in 2012. The surface temperature of the oceans was among the 11 warmest on record, and sea levels also reached a record high.
"The NOAA report underscored the effect that oceans have on temperatures. Oceans store much of the planet's heat, but ocean heat storage is at near-record levels, the report said, and increases were detected even in the ocean's depths.
But as oceans trap heat from a warming planet, they change. Surface ocean temperatures in 2012 were among the 11 warmest on record. In a study recently published in the journal Nature and Climate Change, Australian researchers reported that warmer seas have led to profound changes in marine life, including more species moving to the relatively cooler water of the poles.
Sea levels reached a record high in 2012, climbing 1.3 inches per decade since satellite tracking of sea levels began in 1993, NOAA said.
The Arctic also underwent "unprecedented change" and t