Five-Year Average Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2011

The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880.The finding sustains a trend that has seen the 21st century experience nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York released an analysis of how temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience higher temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) higher than the mid-20th century baseline.

"We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting," said GISS director James E. Hansen. "So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Ni?a influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record."

The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C). This underscores the emphasis scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise as opposed to year-to-year variations. Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not expect annual temperatures to rise consistently each year. However, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades. The first 11 years of the 21st century experienced notably higher temperatures compared to the middle and late 20th century, Hansen said.

For more information on the GISS temperature analysis, visit

Visualization Credits

Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC): Lead Animator
James Hansen Ph.D. (NASA/GSFC GISS): Scientist
Reto A. Ruedy Ph.D. (SIGMA Space Partners, LLC.): Scientist
Kwok-Wai Ken Lo Ph.D. (SIGMA Space Partners, LLC.): Scientist
Makiko Sato Ph.D. (Columbia University, Center for Climate Systems Research): Scientist
Robert B Schmunk Ph.D. (SIGMA Space Partners, LLC.): Scientist
Robert B Schmunk Ph.D. (SIGMA Space Partners, LLC.): Project Support
Patrick Lynch (Wyle Information Systems): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Data provided by Robert B. Schmunk (NASA/GSFC GISS)

Science Paper:

*Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, Mki. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004, doi:10.1029/2010RG000345.

Model documentation, including the ModelE specification and results from three standard configurations, is given in the following journal article:

* Schmidt, G.A., R. Ruedy, J.E. Hansen, I. Aleinov, N. Bell, M. Bauer, S. Bauer, B. Cairns, V. Canuto, Y. Cheng, A. Del Genio, G. Faluvegi, A.D. Friend, T.M. Hall, Y. Hu, M. Kelley, N.Y. Kiang, D. Koch, A.A. Lacis, J. Lerner, K.K. Lo, R.L. Miller, L. Nazarenko, V. Oinas, Ja. Perlwitz, Ju. Perlwitz, D. Rind, A. Romanou, G.L. Russell, Mki. Sato, D.T. Shindell, P.H. Stone, S. Sun, N. Tausnev, D. Thresher, and M.-S. Yao 2006. Present day atmospheric simulations using GISS ModelE: Comparison to in-situ, satellite and reanalysis data. J. Climate 19, 153-192.

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Data Used:
GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP)/GISTEMP

This item is part of this series:
Global Temperature Anomalies

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GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version