Of all the planets in our neighborhood, Earth has a surface temperature that is uniquely friendly to life. That friendliness is the result of a balancing act between incoming sunlight and outgoing thermal energy—the heat radiated back to space by everything in the Earth system, from land to oceans to clouds and, especially, by the gases in the atmosphere. Everything from sea ice concentrations, to plant productivity on land and in the oceans, to the strength of tropical cyclones is influenced by Earth’s surface temperature.
The global surface temperature ranked among the top 10 warmest years on record. Over land and ocean combined, 2012 was between 0.14° and 0.17° Celsius (0.25°and 0.31° Fahrenheit) above the 1981–2010 average, depending on the analysis. The globally averaged annual temperature over land was 0.24°–0.29°C (0.43°-0.52°F) above average. And averaged globally, the 2012 ocean temperature was 0.10°–0.14°C (0.18°-0.25°F) above average.
The most prominent warmth during the year was seen across the Northern Hemisphere higher latitudes, specifically the contiguous United States, the eastern half of Canada, southern Europe, western Russia, and the Russian Far East. However, Alaska, the western parts of Canada, eastern Australia, and parts of central Asia all saw cooler than average temperatures during the year.
Nearly all of the ocean surface was warmer than average with the exception of parts of the northeastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean, parts of the southern Atlantic Ocean, and some regions of the southern oceans. The beginning of 2012 did see some of the lingering cooling effects of La Niña, but they dissipated quickly. Temperatures in 2012 were slightly higher than those of 2011.
This is a partial article, published on the NOAA website, www.climate.gov for the full article see here.
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