Global Temperatures: Highlights from NCDC
This year tied 1997 as the 11th warmest year since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.51°C (0.92°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). This marks the 35th consecutive year, since 1976, that the yearly global temperature was above average. The warmest years on record were 2010 and 2005, which were 0.64°C (1.15°F) above average.
Separately, the 2011 global average land surface temperature was 0.8°C (1.49°F) above the 20th century average of 8.5°C (47.3°F) and ranked as the eighth warmest on record. The 2011 global average ocean temperature was 0.40°C (0.72°F) above the 20th century average of 16.1°C (60.9°F) and ranked as the 11th warmest on record.
La Niña, which is defined by cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean that affects weather patterns around the globe, was present during much of 2011. A relatively strong phase of La Niña opened the year, then dissipated in the spring before re-emerging in October and lasting through the end of the year. When compared to previous La Niña years, the 2011 global surface temperature was the warmest observed during such a year.