El Niño-Southern Oscillation and other climate patterns play a major role in 2010; 2010 one of the two warmest years on record

June 27, 2011

State of the Climate in 2010 report cover.

State of the Climate in 2010 report cover.

High resolution (Credit:NOAA)

Worldwide, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record according to the 2010 State of the Climate report, which NOAA released today. The peer-reviewed report, issued in coordination with the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 368 scientists from 45 countries. It provides a detailed, yearly update on global climate indicators, notable climate events and other climate information from every continent.

This year’s report tracks 41 climate indicators ― four more than last year ― including temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, precipitation, greenhouse gases, humidity, cloud cover, ocean temperature and salinity, sea ice, glaciers, and snow cover. Each indicator includes thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets that allow scientists to identify overall trends.   

While several well-known cyclical weather patterns had a significant influence on weather and climate events throughout the year, the comprehensive analysis of indicators shows a continuation of the long-term trends scientists have seen over the last 50 years, consistent with global climate change.

“We’re continuing to closely track these indicators because it is quite clear that the climate of the past cannot be assumed to represent the climate of the future. These indicators are vital for understanding and making reliable projections of future climate,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Last year was marked by important climate oscillations like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation, which affected regional climates and contributed to many of the world’s significant weather events in 2010.

Highlights of some of the climate indicators include:

Several major cyclical weather patterns played a key role in weather and climate in 2010:

The State of the Climate report is peer-reviewed and published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The 2010 report is edited by J. Blunden, D.S. Arndt, and M.O. Baringer. The full report and a highlights document are available online.

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