Overall, the 21st century has been consistently warmer than its predecessor.
“Including 2012, all 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001–2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century — 1998 — was warmer than 2012,” NOAA reports.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which released its own analysis Tuesday, concluded that 2012 was the 9th-warmest on record.
NASA, in a summary of the findings, said that weather will always cause temperature fluctuations from year to year, but that the continued build-up of greenhouse gases “assures a long-term rise in global temperatures.”
“One more year of numbers isn't in itself significant,” said climatologist Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade, and that decade was warmer than the decade before.”
“The planet is warming. The reason it's warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” he said in a statement accompanying the data.