According to NOAA scientists, 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record, beginning in 1880. This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average.
The global land surface temperatures for 2010 were tied for the second warmest on record at 1.73 F (0.96 C) above the 20th century average. The range of confidence associated with the land surface temperature is +/- 0.20 F (+/- 0.11 C).
Global ocean surface temperatures for 2010 tied with 2005 as the third warmest on record, at 0.88 F (0.49 C) above the 20th century average. The range of confidence associated with the ocean surface temperature is +/- 0.11 F (+/- 0.06 C).
According to the Global Historical Climatology Network, 2010 was the wettest year on record, in terms of global average precipitation.
A chilly spell also struck this winter across northern Europe. The event may have been influenced by the decline of Arctic sea ice and could be linked to warming temperatures at more northern latitudes.
Arctic sea ice acts like a blanket, insulating the atmosphere from the ocean's heat. Take away that blanket, and the heat can escape into the atmosphere, increasing local surface temperatures. Regions in northeast Canada were more than 18 degrees warmer than normal in December.
The loss of sea ice may also be driving Arctic air into the middle latitudes. Winter weather patterns are notoriously chaotic, and the GISS analysis finds seven of the last 10 European winters warmer than the average from 1951 to 1980. The unusual cold in the past two winters has caused scientists to begin to speculate about a potential connection to sea ice changes.
"One possibility is that the heat source due to open water in Hudson Bay affected Arctic wind patterns, with a seesaw pattern that has Arctic air downstream pouring into Europe," Hansen said.