2005 second-warmest year on record
If the preliminary data holds up, 2005 could be the second-warmest year on record, with global surface temperatures averaging 0.48 degrees Celsius above the 1960-1991 annual average of 14 degrees Celsius, according to the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization.
The hottest year ever was 1998, when global surface temperatures averaged 0.54 degrees above that 30-year mean.
The data from 2005 fits in with the trend that makes the last 10-year period from 1996 to 2005 (with the exception of 1996) the warmest years on record for the planet.
While the climate researchers are still crunching numbers, regions of significant warmth were widespread, with large areas of Africa, Australia, Brazil, China and the U.S. showing significantly above-average temperatures. Large parts of Australia sizzled under all-time record heat.
Much of the North Atlantic and tropical Indian Ocean, along with the Gulf of Alaska, were also very warm. Sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic are likely to be the warmest on record, according to a year-end press release from the World Meteorological Organization.