WASHINGTON - Last year was one of the 10 hottest on record, with sea levels at record highs, Arctic ice at historic lows and extreme weather in various corners of the globe signaling a "new normal," scientists said Tuesday in the 2012 State of the Climate report.
Meant to be a guide for policymakers, the report did not attribute the changes in climate to any one factor, but made note of continued increases in heat-trapping greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
"Our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place," said Kathryn Sullivan, acting administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report was edited by NOAA scientists and drew contributions from 384 scientists from 52 countries.
The report's data indicate "new normal" conditions that can inform planning decisions, instead of relying on models that "count on the future being statistically a lot like the past," Sullivan said at a news briefing.
Global surface temperatures - land and water - were the eighth or ninth warmest, depending on which data set was used, since record keeping began in the late 1800s, the report found.