The warming of the planet has been on a bit of a tear lately, with most of the hottest mean global annual temperatures occurring in the last 10-15 years. Last month the National Air and Space Administration (NASA), one of the major climate science research agencies in the world, announced that the 2010 Meteorological Year (which runs from Dec. 2009 to Nov. 2010) was the warmest in NASA's 130-year historical record. This week another climate research agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reported that the 2010 calendar year (Jan. 1 through Dec 31) was tied with 2005 as the warmest in the record.
The NASA-reported Meteorological Year data show ocean and land average global temperature as 14.65˚C, which is 0.65˚C warmer than the average global temperature of the reference period between 1951 and 1980. NOAA's data for the calendar year show that the average temperature in 2010 was 58.12˚F, the same as in 2005, both of which are 1.12˚F above the 20th-century average of 57˚C.
Overall, it was the 34th straight year that the average global temperatures were above the baseline average. And this year did so despite the presence of a La Nina in the eastern Pacific, a phenomenon that generally dampens the warming effects somewhat. The January to December 2010 (calendar) year temperature anomalies can be seen in the graphic below (source: NOAA National Climatic Data Center).
The bottom line is that the planet continues to warm dramatically. According to NCDC, "the decadal global land and ocean average temperature anomaly for 2001–2010 was the warmest decade on record for the globe, with a surface global temperature of 0.56°C (1.01°F) above the 20th century average. This surpassed the previous decadal record (1991–2000) value of 0.36°C (0.65°F)."
For more of the NOAA data, check out the National Climate Data Center web site.