(WASHINGTON) – Last year was the ninth-warmest year on Earth since 1880, continuing a trend “in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000,” NASA scientists said Thursday.
“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting,” said James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Nina influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record.”
NASA says 2011 was 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than 2010, the warmest year on GISS’ record.
“Higher temperatures today are largely sustained by increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide,” NASA said in a news release. “These gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earth and release that energy into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to escape to space. As their atmospheric concentration has increased, the amount of energy ‘trapped’ by these gases has led to higher temperatures.”
Scientists and politicians alike have long debated whether or not global warming actually exists, and the degree to which increasing temperatures could affect human life.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Z. Byron Wolf, CNN
Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN
Madeline Holcombe, CNN