This year is shaping up to be one of the warmest years since California becomes a state.

Data compiled by the World Meteorological Organization shows that 2009 could become the fifth warmest year since 1850, when climate data collection begin, the WMO said Tuesday.

Temperatures from the sea's surface and land this year have risen 0.79 degrees Fahrenheit above the annual average of 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit from 1961 to 1990. The numbers were recorded from January through October. This decade also has been warming than the previous decade; last decade was warmer than its preceding one. 

The WMO released its finding during the second day of the climate change treaty negotiations by the United Nations in Copenhagen, where country delegates seek to set emission reduction goals and agree on methods to achieve them.

President Obama has said the United States would commit to reducing its emissions by 17 percent below the 2005 levels by 2020. The Environmental Protection Agency set out to demonstrate the U.S. commitment by issuing a finding yesterday that would pave the way for the agency to regulate six key greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane (see EPA Tightens Grip on Carbon Emissions).

It's also a time when the accuracy of some of the major climate change research is being questioned, given that some of the hacked emails from a well-known research institution in the United Kingdom implied that data was manipulated to support climate change.

WMO said it conducted the analysis by using data that came from ships and buoys, weather and climate stations on Earth and satellites.

Except for North America, most of the other parts of the world have experienced above-average temperatures this year.

Meanwhile, the bulk of south Asia and central Africa could end up experiencing the warmest year ever.

China, in particular, has felt the third warmest year since 1951. The country, which is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, also endured the worst drought in 50 years, the WMO said.

Australia encountered three extreme heat waves this year, which is so far the third warmest ever for the country.

The WMO plans to publish the final numbers and analysis for 2009 by March next year. 

Photo of a drought in Kenya via Flickr/Creative Commons.