This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 18, 2006

NOAA, NASA: 2005 Ties with 1998 as Hottest Year on Record

The past year was among the hottest on record for the globe, according to new analyses by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) originally pegged 2005 as slightly cooler than the record year of 1998, but its new, improved global temperature analysis places 2005 on top. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) also marks 2005 as the hottest year on record. However, both agencies note that the temperature difference between the two years is statistically insignificant, placing them, quite literally, in a dead heat. It's actually more important to note that global temperatures in 1998 were elevated by a strong El Niño event, whereas 2005 temperatures were nearly equal without the presence of an El Niño, suggesting a significant warming trend. The warming was highest over land at high northern latitudes, where the average temperatures were up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for 1961 through 1990. According to both agencies, global warming has proceeded at an accelerated pace since about 1975.

A number of records were set in 2005. According to NOAA, the extent of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere reached its lowest level in the historical record in September, at just 5.32 million square kilometers. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season set many records, with 27 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and 7 major hurricanes, including three Category 5 storms. As noted by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Zeta, the final tropical storm in the Atlantic this season, was itself a record breaker: forming in late December, Zeta was both the longest-lived tropical storm to cross into the New Year, and the longest-lived tropical cyclone in January. See the NCDC and GISS analyses, the NOAA press release from December, and the NHC's discussion about Zeta.