New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released today showing that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record is almost certain to re-ignite debate on both sides of the climate issue. Already, influencers (many highlighted in a 2010 report by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism) are arguing over just how valid the evidence is, and what to do about it.
Much of the pressure and persuasion in the U.S. will focus on the Environmental Protection Agency, which this month is expected to begin requiring permits from major carbon polluters. Only a few days into the new session of Congress, Republican representatives introduced legislation to block the EPA from regulating carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Republicans in the House also dismantled the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Climate Change, started by Nancy Pelosi in 2006.
NOAA tracks monthly changes and trends in climate around the world. In addition to their findings about rising temperatures, 2010 was also the wettest year on record, in terms of global average precipitation. There was a dramatic shift in the El Nino/La Nina storm systems, which influence temperature and precipitation across the globe, and in the Atlantic hurricane season, which saw 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes last year.
CORRECTION — 1/12/11: A previous version of this article stated that 2010 was the warmest year on record. However, 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record.