2011 was a record-setting year of extreme - and unusual - weather events. And as year-end 2011 climate data being released by scientific research organizations around the world shows, it's also been one of the warmest on record.
Globally, November 2011 mean temperature was the 12th warmest since record-keeping began in 1880, NASA's Climate Prediction Center reported in mid-December. November is the 321st consecutive month when global temperature was above the 20th century average. The last below average month was in February, 1985. Combined global average surface temperature of land and ocean for November 2011 was 55.81 degrees Fahrenheit (13.35 degrees Celsius), 0.81 F (0.45 C) above the 20th century average of 55 F (12.9 C). The margin of error for the data is +/- 0.13 F (0.07 C).
The extent of Arctic sea ice was the third smallest on record, 11.5 percent below average. Meanwhile La Niña conditions persisted in the South Pacific and is expected to continue through the winter, raising the prospect of another abnormally dry spring and summer in the southwestern US.
As of end November, 2011 was set to become the 10th warmest year since record-keeping began in 1850, according the UN World Meteorological Association. Thirteen of hottest years on record occurred in the last 15 years.
Record Warm 2011 in the U.K., France and Worldwide
Great Britain's Met Office reported that 2011 average temperature for the nation was the second hottest on record, an abrupt turnaround from a colder 2010 that broke a consistent warming trend over the first decade of the new millennium, according to a PhysOrg.com report
Nine of the ten hottest years in the U.K. have occurred since 1997, though 2010 was the 12th coldest, with an average temperature of 7.97 degrees C (46.3 degrees F). Average 2011 temperature in the U.K. as 9.62 degrees Celsius (49.3 degrees Fahrenheit), ranking it behind 2006, when average temperature was 9.73 degrees C (49.5 degrees F), as the second warmest year on record.
Similarly, 2011 average temperature in France was the hottest since the start of the 20th century, according to a Meteo France meteorologist, PhysOrg.com reported. Average national temperature for 2011 was 13.6 degrees C (56.5 degrees F), 0.2 degrees C hotter than 2003, the previous hottest year for the century-plus period. Spring 2011 was particularly warm. Average temperature was 4 degrees C warmer than the norm, which is the average temperature from 1971-2000.
Autumn in France was exceptionally mild. November was the second hottest since 1900, 3 degrees warmer than the norm. Every month in July was above the norm, except for July, when temperatures were 1.3 degrees C cooler than average. Average rainfall fell a precipitous 20% in France in 2011, except in the southeast of the country, where heavy rains fell in November.
Central and eastern North America, Northern and Western Europe, northern Russia, most of China and the Middle East, southeastern Australia, and southern South America all experienced warmer than average temperatures in November. Average November temperatures were cooler than average in Alaska, western Canada, much of Eastern Europe, Kazakhstan and southwestern Russia.
November global ocean temperature was the 12th warmest November on record, 0.7 F (0.39 C) above the 20th century average of 60.4 F (15.8 C), with a margin of error of +/- 0.07 F (0.04 C).
Image credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center