This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
2006 Ranks Among the Warmest on Record Globally and at Home
Last year was the fifth warmest on record for the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, NOAA notes that uncertainties in the global calculations due to gaps in data coverage make 2006 statistically indistinguishable from other record warm years, including 2005 and 1998. According to NOAA, global temperatures have increased at a rate of about a third of a degree Fahrenheit for the past 30 years, a trend consistent with that expected from the continued increases in global greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the average temperature for 2006 in the contiguous United States was the warmest on record, although nearly equal to the earlier record, set in 1998. According to NOAA, the past nine years in the United States have all been among the 25 hottest years on record, a hot streak that is unprecedented in the historical record. See the NOAA's annual climate report on the National Climatic Data Center Web site.
With an El Niño event currently causing elevated sea surface temperatures in much of the Pacific Ocean, the United Kingdom's leading meteorological organization is already predicting that 2007 will be the warmest year on record for the globe. According to the Met Office, global surface temperatures take a while to respond to the heating effect of El Niño events, so the current event is likely to elevate global temperatures for much of the year. The Met Office also noted that 2006 was the hottest year on record for the United Kingdom. In fact, the past five years are the five hottest years on record for the United Kingdom. See the Met Office press release.