WASHINGTON - After a string of record-breaking global temperatures in recent years, 2004 is so far shaping up to be hot, but not record-breaking, according to preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The average global temperature for January to June is 0.97 degrees F above the long-term average, currently placing 2004 in third place compared to the January to June averages for other years (the first half of 1998 and 2002 were hotter).

If the average global temperature holds steady through the end of the year, 2004 will be the fourth-warmest year on record, according to NOAA data. The years 2002 and 2003 tied as the second-warmest on record, at 1.01 degrees F above the long-term average. The hottest year on record was 1998, at 1.13 degrees F above the long-term average.

Publication date: 08/02/2004