Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact.com | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

Obama was right about hot-temperature trend

The statement

"The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15."

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address

The ruling

In 2012, the country experienced severe weather threats including drought, a devastating Hurricane Sandy and severe thunderstorms. We decided to fact-check whether the 12 hottest years on record have all come since 1998.

The White House directed us to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which tracks global surface temperatures. The institute concluded that 2012 was the ninth-warmest year on record, with 2010 and 2005 being the all-time highs.

For the contiguous United States, 2012 was the country's warmest year yet. It beat the previous record by one degree Fahrenheit.

Reto Ruedy, a program manager at the Goddard Institute, told PolitiFact that the institute's data produce the following ranking of hottest years. Items on the same line are statistically tied.

1-2: 2010, 2005

3-8: 2007, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009

9-12: 2012, 2011, 2001, 2004

13: 2008

14: 1997

15: 1995

This analysis shows that 13 of the warmest years have occurred in the past 15 years. Alternately, one could say that 12 of the warmest years came in the last 13.

We see a few other issues to note.

The NASA data set isn't the only one available. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also analyzes global surface temperatures using its own methodology. The two measurements diverge somewhat — NOAA considers 2012 the 10th-warmest year on record since records began in 1880, rather than the ninth. However, NOAA's data for land and ocean temperature anomalies show that 14 of the past 15 years were the hottest on record.

There are other ways one could measure "hottest years." Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, agreed with the 13-of-15 calculation. But he added that the NASA and NOAA values refer to global mean surface temperature. "One could define 'hottest' in other ways, such as by how much Arctic sea ice there is," he said.

Obama said, "The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15." Obama was actually over-cautious in his statement, so we rate his statement True.

This report has been edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

Obama was right about hot-temperature trend 02/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions in county funding toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  2. Small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

    Accidents

    ODESSA — Firefighters and sheriff's deputies were investigating Monday after a small helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  3. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child

    News

    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  4. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it

    News

    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Senate health care bill would be disastrous for Florida

    Editorials

    The frantic effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something — anything — ranks raw politics over sound policy and threatens the health care of millions of Floridians. It is a desperate attempt to declare victory by shifting responsibility from the federal government …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks in August in Doral.