Photo copyright Kt Miller/Polar Bears International.

8/7/2013 1:23:26 PM

It's Hot, Hot, Hot: 2012 State of the Climate

Last year was one of the 10 hottest years on record for Planet Earth, according to a new report released by the American Meteorological Society. The peer-reviewed 2012 State of the Climate report was compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries and edited by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"The findings are striking," said Kathryn Sullivan, acting administrator of NOAA, according to the Agence France-Presse. "Our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place."

Changes in the Arctic were a major part of the 2012 story:

  • The Arctic continued to warm at about twice the rate of lower latitudes
  • Summer sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its lowest extent since satellite records began
  • The Arctic snow cover extent in June reached record lows
  • Permafrost temperatures in northernmost Alaska reached record highs
  • A new melt extent record occurred July  11-12 on the Greenland ice sheet, with 97% of the ice sheet showing some form of melt, four times greater than the average melt for this time of year

The report used dozens of climate indicators to track and identify changes and overall trends to the global climate system. These indicators include greenhouse gas concentrations, temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, cloud cover, sea surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean salinity, sea ice extent and snow cover. Each indicator includes thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets.

Sea ice concentration reached a new record low in mid-September 2012. Credit: NOAA, based on NSIDC data.

Temperature in 2012 compared to the 1981-2010 average. Credit: NOAA, based on NCDC data.

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