Warmest global winter on record according to NOAA

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Although the United States experienced average temperatures for the December, 2006 to February, 2007 period, overall world temperatures were the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In a March 15, 2007 report, the NOAA indicated that a record warm January helped push the combined global land and ocean surface temperature for the past winter to its highest value since records began in 1880.

The ocean-atmosphere system, El Niño, played a part in the season’s record warmth, according to the report's authors, but its effects did not last long, as ocean temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific cooled more than 0.3 degrees C in February and were near average for the month.

The global land-surface temperature was the warmest on record, while the ocean-surface temperature tied for second warmest in the past 128 year period, approximately 0.06 degrees C cooler than the record established during the strong El Niño episode of 1997-1998.

During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased approximately 0.06 degrees C per decade, but since 1976 the rate of increase has been about 0.18 degrees C per decade. The greatest temperature increase occurred in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

In an interview with Reuters, Jay Lawrimore of NOAA suggested that the data does not show greenhouse gases had an influence on the recent temperature increases, but acknowledges that by "looking at long-term trends and long-term changes, we are able to better understand natural and anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change."

A U.S. Commerce Department agency based in Washington, D.C., the NOAA conducts research and gathers data on oceans and atmosphere. The NOAA is a participant in the Group on Earth Observations, GEO, an intergovernmental effort to coordinate the collection of Earth observations worldwide.

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