2010 officially tied for the warmest year on record — with 2005 and 1998, the World Meteorological Organization reported on Jan. 20.

The global average temperature in 2010 was 0.95 degrees Fahrenheit above the mean for 1961-90. That’s 0.02 degrees Fahrenheit above the nominal temperature in 2005, and 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit above 1998 — although those differences are less than the margin of uncertainty.

Over the last decade, global temperatures have averaged 0.83 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1961-1990 average, and they are the highest ever recorded for a 10-year period since the beginning of instrumental climate records, the WMO reported.

What did a warm 2010 mean?

  • Arctic sea-ice cover in December was the lowest on record, following the third-lowest minimum ice extent recorded in September.
  • Warming has been especially strong in Africa, parts of Asia, and parts of the Arctic. Many sub-regions registered temperatures 2.2 to 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average.
  • Few land areas were significantly cooler than average in 2010; they included parts of northern Europe and central and eastern Australia.
  • 2010 featured numerous extreme weather events, among them a deadly heat wave in Russia and catastrophic monsoonal floods in Pakistan.