NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York has found that 2011 was the ninth warmest year since 1880.
Researchers from the GISS have discovered that the global average surface temperature has increased over the years. In 2011, the average temperature was 0.92 degrees Fahrenheit (0.51 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.
According to the researchers, the first eleven years of the 21st century experienced higher temperatures compared to the middle and late 20th century. The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere has increased to 390 parts per million compared to 1880, when the carbon dioxide level was about 285 parts per million.
The climate has drastically changed in the past few decades due to the excess emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. These harmful gases absorb the infrared radiation emitted by the Earth and the energy is released back to the Earth rather than allowing it to escape to space. The trapped energy results in the increase of temperature.
"We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting," said James E. Hansen, director of the GISS. "So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Nina influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record."
"It's always dangerous to make predictions about El Nino, but it's safe to say we'll see one in the next three years," he said.
"It won't take a very strong El Nino to push temperatures above 2010," he said.
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