The "BREAKING: World Getting Hotter!" news shouldn't be, well, news anymore. And for people who already tuned in on global warming, it's not. But considering we still have the senior senator from Oklahoma insisting that the planet is actually getting cooler, perhaps it's worth noting the latest data indicates that the first eight months of 2010 are now tied with the same period in 1998 for the warmest on record.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday that the period of January through August 2010 is tied with the first eight months of 1998 for highest combined land and ocean surface temperatures worldwide. The combined temperature was 1.21 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0.67 degrees Celsius) above the average for the 20th century.
The period of June to August alone qualifies as the second warmest on record (1998 was the warmest)—which many people around the world can attest to, given the major heat waves this summer. As NOAA notes, "Warmer-than-average conditions dominated land areas of the globe." Eastern Europe, eastern Canada and parts of eastern Asia all experienced warmer weather, though other regions like Australia, central Russia and southern South America, experienced "cooler-than-average" temperatures.
While climate skeptics like Sen. Jim Inhofe were happy to trot out record snowfall over the winter as evidence that the planet isn't warming, they haven't had a whole lot to say about the summer heat. Of course, climate scientists would point out that no single period of weeks or months is indicative of whether or not the climate is changing. This is about climate, after all, not weather. But the latest data does fit into the long-term warming pattern that scientists have repeatedly observed.