"New figures issued on Thursday in Britain show that 2010 was the second-warmest year in the historical record. That comes on the heels of reports last week from two American agencies that 2010 was tied for the warmest year in the record books.
All three sets of numbers come from scientific programs that conduct rigorous analysis of the surface temperature of the earth, using thermometers and other instruments distributed across the globe.
Despite slight differences in the three reports, they all show pretty much the same thing: that the earth is warming, that most of the warmest years in the historical record since 1880 have come in the past decade or so and that 2010 was so warm it came close to setting the all-time record.
The latest numbers come from a scientific collaboration between Britain’s weather agency and a climate-research unit at the University of East Anglia. Their figures show 1998 to be the warmest year on record, and provisional figures for 2010 show it coming in just behind 1998."
Justin Gillis reports for the New York Times' Green blog January 20, 2011.