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World on Track for Warmest Year on Record, U.S. Scientist Says

The current year may become the warmest on record, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist.

Temperature trends across the U.S. and around the world have been among the warmest on record, said David Easterling, a climatologist with NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

“If the warming around the world continues the way it has so far this year, we are likely to have 2010 be the warmest on record,” Easterling said during a conference call on climate change hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The combined land and ocean temperatures around the world were 1.22 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average, according to NOAA records. Since 1975, global temperatures have been rising and since 1960 the number of heat waves has been increasing, Easterling said on the call.

Much of the U.S. Northeast has been gripped by a heat wave that broke temperature records in New York, Washington and Baltimore and brought 100 degrees or more to Newark four days in a row.

Energy use has risen and utilities have asked customers to curb their use to conserve power.

“We can’t say that one individual heat wave, or even two heat waves, are due to global warming but what we can say is that warming temperatures do increase the probability of a heat wave,” Easterling said. “The current spate of heat waves could be a harbinger of things to come.”

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