NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The year 2005 may have been the warmest year in a century, according to NASA scientists studying temperature data from around the world.
Climatologists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City say the highest global annual average surface temperature in more than a century was recorded last year.
Other research groups have ranked 2005 as the second warmest year. The primary difference among the analyses, according to NASA, is the inclusion of the Arctic in the NASA analysis.
Previously, the warmest year of the century was 1998, when a strong El Nino added warmth to global temperatures. However, NASA scientists say what's significant, regardless of whether 2005 is first or second warmest, is that global warmth has returned to about the level of 1998 without the help of an El Nino.
"The five warmest years over the last century occurred in the last eight years," said James Hansen, director of the NASA institute. The warmest was 2005, then 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
The NASA scientists said current warmth seems to be occurring nearly everywhere at the same time and is largest at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.