This past winter was the warmest ever recorded, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have announced. From December 2006 to February 2007 -- the Northern Hemisphere winter as defined by meteorologists --combined global land and ocean surface temperatures were at their highest since record keeping began in 1880.
• Combined global land and ocean surface temperatures -- as well as global land surface temperatures -- during the Northern Hemisphere winter were the highest ever recorded, largely because of the warmest January ever.
• The previous warmest winter was in 2004; the third warmest winter ever recorded was in 1998.
• Ocean surface temperatures in Northern Hemisphere winter 2007 were the second warmest on record, after December 1997 to February 1998.
• The global pattern may not have been obvious in every location. In the United States, for example, the average winter temperature was only 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th century average (compared with the global difference of 1.3 degrees), and February was the third coldest in 113 years.
• For the past hundred years, global surface temperatures increased at a rate of about 0.11 degrees Farenheit per decade. Since 1976, however, that rate has tripled to 0.33 degrees per decade.
• In February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report, concluding with 90 percent certainty that human activities are driving the observed pattern of global warming.
• Quote: "We don't say this winter is evidence of the influence of greenhouse gases. [But] the warming trend is due in part to rises in greenhouse gas emissions." - Jay Lawrimore, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center