WASHINGTON -- While the United States was smashing heat marks last year, the world as a whole barely slipped into the top 10 hottest years on record, two U.S. science agencies said yesterday.
Last year's global average temperature would have been a record 15 years ago, showing that what used to be unusual heat is more commonplace. Now it ranks merely 10th, which scientists say shows man-made climate change in action.
Last year's average was 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14.5 Celsius), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, a full degree above the 20th-century average of 57 F. Hottest was 2010 with an average temperature of 58.2 degrees. NOAA records go back to 1880.
"We're playing in a new neighborhood as far as global temperatures go, compared to even the late 20th century and especially the mid-20th century," said Deke Arndt, head of monitoring for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.
A weather pattern called La Niña, the flip side of El Niño, and mildness in Alaska, Canada, Britain and parts of Asia moderated the globe's temperatures. In 2012, the lower 48 U.S. states recorded their hottest year with an average of 55.3 F.
NASA measures temperatures differently and ranks 2012 as ninth warmest at an average of 58.3 F. Both agencies announced their data yesterday. -- AP