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2005 was warmest year on record

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12:01pm, January 31, 2006

Last year's global average temperature of 14.6°C (58.3°F) was the warmest recorded since scientists began compiling records in the late 1800s.

The previous record for global warmth was set in the El Niño year of 1998, when high sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific pushed up the global average, says James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. This year's record warmth is notable because temperatures didn't get a boost from El Niño, he notes. Hansen and his colleagues announced results of their analyses on Jan. 24.

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