Climate change

2012 was the 36th straight year of above-average global temperature

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 4:22am

Global temperatures were above average for the 36th straight year in 2012 and the planet is likely to chalk up more record warm highs over the coming decade, US scientists say.

The year 2012 marked the ninth or 10th warmest on record, depending on the measurement. Space agency Nasa put the average temperature at 14.6 Celsius, 0.6 degrees higher than in the 20th century.

Data released last week found that the continental US experienced its warmest year on record in 2012. However, several regions including parts of Alaska, western Canada, central Asia and the Antarctic were cooler.

James Hansen, director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said it was likely that an upcoming year would break the record high global temperature set in 2010.

"The ocean is getting warmer … there is more energy coming in than going out," Hansen said on Tuesday. "We can predict with confidence that the next decade will be warmer than the last one."

Most scientists believe global temperatures are rising due to industrial emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases.

The average global temperature has risen by 0.8 degrees since 1880. The planet has been warmer than the 20th century average every year since 1976 and only one year in the last century - 1998 - was warmer than 2012.