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NOAA: 2010 Second Warmest Year on Record

The El Nino-Southern Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation affected regional climates and contributed to many of the world's significant weather events in 2010, including global temperatures that were among the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Three major independent data sets showed 2010 as one of the two warmest years since official record keeping began in the late 19th century, according to NOAA's State of the Climate in 2010, which was issued Tuesday in coordination with the American Meteorological Society.

Surface temperatures were approximately 0.5 degree Celsius above the 1961-1990 average, depending on which methodologies were considered, according to NOAA.

While several cyclical weather patterns had a significant influence on weather and climate events throughout the year, the analysis of indicators shows a continuation of the long-term trends scientists have seen over the last 50 years, consistent with global climate change, NOAA said. Annual average temperatures in the Arctic continued to rise at about twice the rate of the lower latitudes.

Other climate indicators in 2010 included the shrinking of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, an increase in ocean salinity and major greenhouse gas concentrations, and an increase in average global sea surface temperatures, which were the third warmest on record despite a moderate-to-strong La Nina during the latter half of the year.

Despite bringing relatively little damage to the United States mainland and energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2010 hurricane season was one of the busiest in years (see Daily GPI, Dec. 1, 2010). But a transition from a strong warm El Nino climate pattern at the beginning of 2010 to a cool La Nina by July helped to subdue tropical cyclone activity in other basins, especially in much of the Pacific Ocean, NOAA said.

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