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NOAA Report on the Global Climate of 2011

July 10, 2012; 4:55 PM ET

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released their 'State of the Climate' report for 2011. The report focuses on the cooling influence of back-to-back La Ninas and the increase in extreme events globally.

Global surface temperature anomalies for 2011, courtesy of NOAA.

The peer-reviewed report, issued in coordination with the American Meteorological Society (AMS), was compiled by 378 scientists from 48 countries around the world.

Here are some of the key excerpts from the NOAA report.......

Worldwide, 2011 was the coolest year on record since 2008, yet temperatures remained above the 30 year average......

La Nina chilled the eastern tropical Pacific in 2011, but ocean heat content nearly everywhere else was above the long-term average.

La Nina influenced several severe weather events during 2011, such as the historic droughts in East Africa, the southern United States and northern Mexico, along with the wettest two-year period in Australia.

Arctic Sea ice extent reached its second lowest summer minimum on record.

Older Arctic sea ice (4 to 5 years old) reached a new record minimum at more than 80 percent below average.

The report also focused on a total of 43 climate indicators to track and identify changes and overall trends to the global climate system, according to NOAA.

Key excerpts about the global climate system........

Four independent datasets show 2011 among the 15 warmest since records began in the late 19th century, with annually-averaged temperatures above the 1981-2010 average, but coolest on record since 2008.

The Arctic continued to warm at about twice the rate compared with lower latitudes.

The surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced dramatic melting during the summer of 2011. The melt detected between June-August was the third largest since satellite records began in 1979....

Carbon dioxide steadily increased in 2011 and the yearly global average exceeded 390 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since instrumental records began.

...temperatures in the polar stratosphere were lower than average during the early 2011 winter months. This led to the lowest ozone concentrations in the lower Arctic stratosphere since records began in 1979 with more than 80 percent of the ozone between 11 and 12 miles altitude destroyed by late March, increasing UV radiation levels at the surface.....

NOAA has an excellent piece explaining the differences that we see in regards to temperature/sea ice trends between the Arctic and Antarctic. You can find it halfway down this page.

The AMS also looked at the possible links between the extreme events of 2011 and climate change......

While scientists cannot trace specific events to climate change with absolute certainty, new and continued research help scientists understand how the probability of extreme events change in response to global warming.

La Nina-related heat waves are now 20 times more likely to occur during La Nina years today than La Niña years fifty years ago.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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