World-warming race a dead heat

The global temperature for the first 10 months of 2010 is in a dead heat with 1998 for the warmest Jan. 1-Oct. 31 period ever, according to government data going back to 1880.

The combined land-sea surface temperatures for both years came in at 58.53, the National Climate Data Center reported this afternoon. Last month ended up being the eighth-warmest October ever. 

In both years, the global temperatures received a boost from anomalous warming in the tropical Pacific, or El Nino. 

In both years, El Nino yielded to its opposite, a La Nina cooling. However, this La Nina came on a little stronger and looks to out-do its 1998 counterpart.   

Since we're talking about millions of square miles of ocean, odds are that 1998 will end up keeping its title, if just barely.

Two other tidbits from the climate center report: Arctic sea ice was at its third-lowest October extent since ice recordkeeping began in 1979, but Anarctic ice was at its fourth-largest extent.