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2011 Was 10th-Warmest on Record December 2, 2011
Climate change graphic
2011 was one of the 13 warmest years on record since 1997, ranking at number 10 based on preliminary estimates.
Earth’s climate bucked the chilling effects of the La Niña ocean-cooling in the tropical Pacific earlier this year, still managing to make 2011 the 10th warmest year on record.

The U.N. World Meteorological Organization announced at the Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, that this year is among a total of 13 years since 1997 that are the warmest since 1850.

“Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jerry Lengoasa told reporters at the conference.

But the global economic downturn means that any hope of reaching an international agreement to curb the greenhouse gas emissions behind climate change are truly bleak.

Lengoasa said in a statement that concentrations of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases are rapidly approaching the levels that are predicted to cause a 2- to 2.4-degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures.

He warned that this is the level “scientists believe could trigger far-reaching and irreversible changes in our Earth, biosphere and oceans.”

Graphics: World Meteorological Organization