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2012 was among warmest years on record

January 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The year 2012 was packed with climate-related stories. From Superstorm Sandy, to the drought in the Midwest that left cornfields barren and the Mississippi River drained, to the deadly wildfires in heat-stricken Colorado.

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On Tuesday, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released the global temperature numbers for 2012 - and they're not pretty.

Last year's average was 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14.5 degrees Celsius), the NOAA said. NASA, which measures temperatures differently, put it at 58.3 F (14.6 C).

Bill Patzert, a NASA climatologist, said last year was the warmest year in the U.S. in the historical record.

Patzert said last year was the ninth warmest ever on a global scale, and that the Earth's consistently rising temperature is the engine that is spurring the extreme weather problems we've been seeing.

"We had some of the most punishing, devastating and expensive natural disasters that the United States has ever experienced," Patzert said.

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NASA's analysis shows the average global temperature since 1880 has risen. Patzert said the Earth's temperature is rising because of the buildup of greenhouse gases caused by cars, factories and anything that burns fossil fuels.

"The human race is having a direct impact on the planet," Patzer said. "We're getting warmer and these events are getting more expensive and more punishing and more deadly."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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