Last year ranked alongside 1998 and 2005 as the warmest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

In 2010, average global temperature was 0.53°C above the 1961–90 mean.

“The 2010 data confirm the Earth’s significant long-term warming trend,” said WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud.

“The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998.”

Over the decade from 2001 to 2010, global temperatures have averaged 0.46°C above the 1961–1990 average, and are the highest ever recorded for a 10-year period since the beginning of instrumental climate records.

Recent warming has been especially strong in Africa, parts of Asia, and parts of the Arctic.

WMO also says that Artic sea-ice cover in December 2010 was the lowest on record, with the average monthly extent 1.35 million square kilometres below the 1979–2000 average for December.