RSS
The hottest, wettest year ever: By the numbers
Scientists say that 2010 topped the temperature and precipitation charts, providing fresh evidence that global warming is real
In May Nashville, Tennessee was pummeled with more than 13 inches of rain; In Australia floods that began in December have yet to abate.
In May Nashville, Tennessee was pummeled with more than 13 inches of rain; In Australia floods that began in December have yet to abate.
Getty
A

lthough much of the nation has been hammered by unusually frigid air this winter, new data released Wednesday by the government indicates that, globally, 2010 was the warmest, wettest year on record (although it shared the "warmest year" title with 2005). "The warmth this year reinforces the notion that we are seeing climate change," and "unequivocally" disproves notions that climate warming ended in 2005, says David Easterling, chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's scientific services division. Here, a brief guide, by the numbers, to the record-breaking weather:

2010
Hottest year on record, globally, in a tie with 2005. It was also the wettest year ever recorded — "no surprise to the Pakistanis, Australians, Tennesseans, and Californians who lived through epic floods," says Justin Gillis in The New York Times.

1880
Year scientists began keeping records of temperatures "in earnest"

23rd
Ranking for 2010 among the hottest years for the United States

36th
Ranking for 2010 among the wettest years for the United States. "Over all, the year was not as exceptional for the United States as for the world as a whole," says the Times' Gillis.

49
Number of U.S. states, out of 50, that currently have snow on the ground. "Whatever the globe is doing, your local weather can have a completely different picture, that's for sure," says John Christy, an atmospheric science professor of at the University of Alabama.

7 and 3
Number of named storms and hurricanes, respectively, in the Pacific last year, the fewest since the 1960s

19 and 12
Number of named storms and hurricanes, respectively, in the Atlantic. Last year was "very active" in the Atlantic, says Randolph E. Schmid in The Huffington Post.

34
Consecutive years that global temperatures have been above the average for the 20th century

14
Consecutive years that temperatures in the U.S. have been above the long-term average

9
Number of the 10 warmest years on record that have taken place since 2000. The third spot on the list, 1998, is the exception. "There's been some notion that people have put forth that the climate 'stopped warming in about 2005,'" says Easterling. "I think this year's results show that that notion lacks credibility."

58.12
Average surface temperature of the planet last year, in degrees Fahrenheit

57
Average surface temperature of the planet, in degrees Fahrenheit, during the 20th century

Sources: New York Times, Huffington Post, NPR, Politico, Buzzle

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week