The United Nations predicts the global average temperature for 2008 will fall short of the 2007 average.
Global warming skeptics, start your engines?
The U.N. World Meteorological Organization, however, takes pains to put its prediction in context.
The average temperature in 2008 is still expected to be above the long-term average, and it is still expected to support the trend making the last decade the warmest on record.
The difference between this year and last is the presence of La Niña, the name given to a cooler-than-normal patch of water in the southern Pacific Ocean. La Niña and its brother, El Niño, oscillate over time, each influencing temperature and weather patterns worldwide for the space, usually, of a few months.
The current La Niña is expected to persist halfway through 2008, depressing world temperatures enough to draw down the overall average temperature.
For detecting climate change you should not look at any particular year, but instead examine the trends over a sufficiently long period of time, said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorology Organization.
Averages also mask variability around the world. While China, Central Asia, Turkey and the Middle East have been cooler than usual so far this year, these areas have been warmer: Australia, Scandinavia, Russia, the western United States, Mexico, northeastern Brazil and the southern part of South America.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.