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NASA: 2007 Second Warmest Year Ever, with Record Warmth Likely by 2010

By Joe Romm  

"NASA: 2007 Second Warmest Year Ever, with Record Warmth Likely by 2010"


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According to NASA scientists:

Through the first 11 months, 2007 is the second warmest year in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. The unusual warmth in 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean has entered the cool phase of its natural El Ni±o — La Ni±a cycle.

barring the unlikely event of a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next 2-3 years.


Figure (a) Annual surface temperature anomaly relative to 1951-1980 mean, based on surface air measurements at meteorological stations and ship and satellite measurements of sea surface temperature; the 2007 point is the 11-month anomaly. [Green error bar is estimated 2σ uncertainty....]

Even an “unusually cold” December, would only drop 2007 to the third warmest year ever. NASA points out:

The six warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 15 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1988.

Anyone notice a trend? And the most warming is far from the urban heat islands of major cities:

… the greatest warming has been in the Arctic. Polar amplification is an expected characteristic of global warming, as the loss of ice and snow engenders a positive feedback via increased absorption of sunlight. The large Arctic warm anomaly of 2007 is consistent with observations of record low Arctic sea ice cover in September this year.

But couldn’t this all be the sun going through a phase of high solar radiation, a favorite explanation of those who deny that human-generated greenhouse gases are the primary cause of warming? No. As NASA explains:

The sun is another source of natural global temperature variability. Figure 3, based on an analysis of satellite measurements by Richard Willson, shows that 2007 is at the minimum of the current 10-11 year solar cycle. Another analysis of the satellite data (not illustrated here), by Judith Lean, has the 2007 solar irradiance minimum slightly lower than the two prior minima in the satellite era.


Figure 3. Solar irradiance from analysis of satellite measurements by Willson and Mordvinov (Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, no. 5, 1199, 2003) and update (private communication). Click to enlarge.

This cyclic solar variability yields a climate forcing change of about 0.3 W/m2 between solar maxima and solar minima…. Several analyses have extracted empirical global temperature variations of amplitude about 0.1°C associated with the 10-11 year solar cycle, a magnitude consistent with climate model simulations….

The solar minimum forcing is thus about 0.15 W/m2 relative to the mean solar forcing. For comparison, the human-made greenhouse gas climate forcing is now increasingly at a rate of about 0.3 W/m2 per decade. If the sun should remain ‘stuck’ in its present minimum for several decades, as has been suggested in analogy to the solar Maunder Minimum of the seventeenth century, that negative forcing would be balanced by a 5-year increase of greenhouse gases. Thus such solar variations cannot have a substantial impact on long-term global warming trends.

Not only are we in a solar minimum, we are also in a cool phase for the Pacific Ocean:

The cooler than normal equatorial region to the west of South America reflects the building La Ni±a phase of the Southern Oscillation. In the La Ni±a phase of the El Ni±o-La Ni±a cycle the equatorial winds in the Pacific Ocean blow with stronger than average force from the east, driving warm surface waters toward the Western Pacific. This induces an upwelling of cold deep water near Peru, which then spreads westward along the equator.

What does this all mean?

The natural variations of the Southern Oscillation and the solar cycle thus have minor but not entirely insignificant effects on year-to-year temperature change. Given that both of these natural effects were in their cool phases in 2007, it makes the unusual warmth this year all the more notable. It also suggests that, barring the unlikely event of a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next 2-3 years.

As you may recall, a Science magazine article from August predicted “at least half of the years after 2009 [will] exceed the warmest year currently on record.”

Perhaps these record-breaking temperatures will finally move this country to action.

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23 Responses to NASA: 2007 Second Warmest Year Ever, with Record Warmth Likely by 2010

  1. hippie with a pistol says:

    “But couldn’t this all be the sun going through a phase of high solar radiation, a favorite explanation of those who deny that human-generated greenhouse gases are the primary cause of warming? No.”

    Not so fast. Although were are entering a solar minimum J-lean has found that there is overall increasing solar activity during this century. She has reported that TSI during recent solar maximums has been higher than at any time in the past 4 centuries.

    G-Kopp at SORCE notes that an estimated increase of 0.04% would induce appreciable climate change if it persists for a sufficient number of solar cycles.

    Also keep in mind that since the Maunder Minimum solar energy has slowly increased over each subsiquent 11-year solar cycle.

    Furthermore, J-lean finds that solar forcing is greater than previously expected:

    The Sun Approaches Its 11 Year Minimum and Activity Cycle 24

    “Climate response to decadal solar forcing has previously been expected to be too small to be detected. (Scientists reasoned that the amount of change caused by solar forcing would be too small to change the ocean temperatures significantly—i.e., any change would be dampened by the ocean’s thermal inertia.) However, recent empirical results associating decadal solar variability and climate contradict this expectation, and recent studies are beginning to shed light on how this may take place.”

    Take a breath Joe. Many solar researchers believe solar activity accounts for half of the recent warming. I wouldn’t ignore the role solar activity has on the climate.

  2. John Mashey says:

    See John Cross’s:

    The most popular fallacious arguments are listed, by popularity, each with a pointer to a good description, with charts, and pointers to peer-reviewed research papers.

    This is, more-or-less:
    1 sun
    45 hotsun
    46 solarcycle

  3. jcwinnie says:

    Look! A hippie with a pistol. Everybody Get Down!

    (cue 25 or 6 to 4)

  4. Dano says:

    Many solar researchers believe solar activity accounts for half of the recent warming. I wouldn’t ignore the role solar activity has on the climate.

    “Many” isn’t “most”.



  5. David says:

    When I see any kind of data, I think it’s important to determine how meaningful and accurate that data is before reading anything into it. Since this chart is for global temperature, I’m assuming that someplace like say, China, was included in the data. For the period of 1880 to 1920, how were their temperatures determined? What instruments were used? Who took the measurements? What was their training? How many locations had their temperatures measured? Where were those locations?

  6. Albert says:

    Here, on November 27th:
    “It is very safe to say the Arctic Sea will be essentially ice free by 2030, and I’d personally bet on 2020 — any takers?”

    Arctic summers ice free ‘by 2013′

  7. bigcitylib says:

    So far I’ve heard 5th hottest year, 7th hottest year, 2nd hottest year (here), and hottest year (apparently from Japanese sources). Obviously 2007 is going to be in the top ten, but this is getting a bit silly.

  8. Joe says:

    The 5th and 7th are almost certainly just the continental U.S. tempature ranking (people do use slightly different data sets).

    1st or 2nd would be the one that matters — global temperature.

  9. Rob says:

    It does not matter whether 2007 was one of the warmest years and it does not matter that the six warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, what does matter is that there has been NO WARMING since 1998, the temperature of the planet has not increased for the last decade. global warming has stopped.


  10. DocHolliday says:

    Good point, Rob.

    We’ve all seen the stories from the Washington Post, MSNBC, USA Today, CBS News, and of course, the New York Times telling us “(2004) was the fourth warmest (year) since systematic temperature measurements began around the world,” “The year 2005 was the warmest year in over a century,” and “1998, 2002 and 2003 and 2004 followed as the next four warmest.” Man Made Global Warming has become big news. I mean hells bells — We’re at the tipping point!

    It turns out that those news stories, based on press releases from our friend, Dr. James Hansen at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, were wrong.

    Dr. Hansen, the scientific advisor for Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” has gotten a lot of ink over the past few years complaining that his ideas on climate change are being suppressed by the Bush Administration. “On climate, the public has been misinformed and not informed,” said Dr. Hansen in a 2006 interview with the New York Times. “The foundation of a democracy is an informed public, which obviously means an honestly informed public. That’s the big issue here.”

    I agree. That is a big issue. For those who are unaware, GISS doesn’t just pass along raw temperature readings from which average global temperature is then drawn. There are problems with equipment siting and quite a few sites used to gather temperature records do not meet even minimal compliance standards. To overcome this problem, Dr. Hansen and the climate professionals at GISS have developed software to “fix” the flawed data from the surface sites. A number of researchers including Roger Pielke Sr have published peer reviewed papers documenting these station siting issues and noting insufficient adjustments in the official temperature records. More than a few have referred to NASA’s mean temperature data as “faith-based” climate science, because, well, the honestly informed public just has to take it on faith that the rocket scientists at NASA know what they’re doing.

    Intriguingly, in the interest of keeping the public not only informed but honestly informed, Dr. Hansen and the climatologists at GISS have refused to allow other independent scientists access to their temperature adjustment software. They refuse to allow their data to be independently verified. High-sounding rhetoric aside, the climate researchers at NASA don’t believe they’re obliged to provide us anything other than a cursory description of the adjustment softwarethey use.

    Despite their unwillingness to follow commonly accepted scientific practice, in August 2007 NASA had to quietly change it’s mean temperature numbers after Hansen’s algorithm for “fixing” the raw data was found to have caused inaccurate readings for every year since 2000. An interview with the blogger who discovered the fraud has been published online, and it’s quite an interesting read. I hope you get the opportunity to check it out.

    To quantify the error, the actual temperature numbers for the last 6 years have been over reported by .15 deg C (.27 deg F.) After the fraud was exposed, Hansen quickly sent out a longwinded diatribe slamming the few news agencies that reported his error. Various sockpuppet sites have tried to downplay NASA’s boo boo as “insignificant,” but when the entire increase in temperature in the United States had been previously reported to be only about .6 deg C over the last century, this is not a small number. It turns out, 5 of the hottest years were before 1940, and the average temperature since 1998 has actually dropped. Watching this little drama unfold, a disinterested observer might reasonably conclude that the esteemed head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies is not only a liar, but a damned liar. In the interest of an honestly informed public, Hansen and his cronies at GISS should be fired.

    The issue of siting problems and the accuracy of temperature data adjustments for the rest of the globe has yet to be established. One thing is for certain: The claims that 2007 is the hottest year in the past century, or that 6 of the hottest years have occurred in the last decade are most certainly false. Anyone who continues to parrot “the last decade has seen the warmest temperatures since Pontius Pilate” without including a disclaimer about known errors in the method of gathering temperatures and adjusting for urban heat islands should be chastised for misinforming the public.

  11. ShawnS says:

    That Skepticalscience.con site is misrepresenting what they refer to as “Science used by skepitcs”
    They point to studies that are cherry pick studies no longer considered valid and ommit others that are far more current, well recieved. And only point to non- science blogs that are about politics rather than science blogs which are addressing the science.
    Reading SkepSci’s highschoolish arguements makes me lean skeptical myself.

  12. Derek Gunn says:

    Amazing that climate change deniers still exist.
    How do you explain the receding of nearly all glaciers world-wide?
    How do you explain the massive loss of Arctic ice?

    Let’s pretend for a moment that global warming has nothing to do with mankind.
    Should we still not be doing everything we can to counter the trend?

    When the Arctic summer turns from reflecting sunlight (-80% via ice/snow)
    to absorbing it (+95% via sea water) some time within the next 10 years,
    what is going to happen to the rate of global warming?

    Some people here would deny an increase in heat if their socks went on fire.

  13. Sonny Field says:

    I don’t think that the skeptics of man made global warming deny that the climate changes. Actually we are the ones stating that climate change is the constant and not the norm.

    Also to your question
    “Let’s pretend for a moment that global warming has nothing to do with mankind.
    Should we still not be doing everything we can to counter the trend?” My answer is no. We should help the starving people of the world and take care of the real problems which are not theories but fact. Perhaps when we get better data that is not full of anomalies that your group will get more believers.

    Until then us Dumb illiterate flat worlders will keep pumping MTBE and ethonol into our cars, hoping there are a couple of spotted owls around (they are extinct by now right?) and hoping we are not going into global cooling like the science of 1976 thought.

    When the batting average of environmental science gets a little better I’ll start drinking the Kool-Aid. Until then, enjoy

  14. gutsmo says:

    Help me out here. Figure a shows a significant rise from 1880. Dr. J. Hansen has acknowledgeded that 1998 is not the hottest year since whenever, rather the year is 1934. This is undisputed. So I don’t understand how the chart, using the annual basis, reflects that years after 1940 are significantly higher that 1934. Dr. Hansen has said that 1934 was the warmest this century but only slightly warner than 1998. So was 2007 hotter than 1998. If not, then there has been no temperature rise since 1998. Even more confusing are recent reports that the temperature dropped significantly in 2007. So what about all this?

  15. William says:

    Good to see many have noted you are using old NASA data. As the comments note, Hansen restated the post 2000 data when an error was found. NASA now states 1934 was the warmest year. 1998 was the second warmest. It has not warmed for the last decade. In the recent 16 months we have experienced cooling. The NOAA Argos data is in showing the oceans are cooling.

  16. bob says:

    the sky is falling…..the sky is falling….the sky is falling…….

    you global wariming people are such idiots

  17. Gregor says:

    Notice how, like fusion, the record heat is “just around the corner” and has been for how long now? Oh, I know, by measuring the “urban heat island” effect and stating that it’s due instead to atmospheric CO2 they mislead the weak minded. But not those who are paying attention… Hansen is making ever more ridiculous statements to try and save his tattered reputation. Reality is closing in and so he’s saying we must hurry and do the ridiculous – for by the time Obama’s first term is over he (Hansen) will certainly be revealed as a complete fraud due to the facts, which by then should be overpowering.

    [JR: Huh? We're in the hottest decade (by far) since the instrumental temperature records began, probably the hottest decade in the past 2000 years. Hansen is just talking about single year records, here. It is the decade-old temperature trend that humanity needs to worry about -- and that ain't "just around the corner."]

  18. Joe says:

    In 1997 the NASA site had the truth posted, Mars’ icecaps were showing signs of a heat-up. Period. End of story. Of course we got a blast of the heat from the sun. The oceans warmed, warmer water holds less gases, CO2 goes up dramatically. How about celebrating increased plant growth, that is happening. Everything will probably calm down and go back to normal or even get colder. It will be slow enough for us to adapt. Our problem isn’t climate, it is population. Government to the anti-rescue! Feed the lowest folks (non-evolved from apes) with the tax-theft from the producers!

    BTW, now the NASA website say Mars’ heating is local, caused by roughing up of the surface by storms which make dark areas that absorb more heat… LMAO.

    Need a political handle on peoples’ mind? What is it going to do to your credibility when the blast of heat is processed and Earth cools? Oh well, American’s will be finished then as a viable nation thanks to alarmists taking the helm. Since most Democrats live in the cities, they will face starvation, nature is just :)

  19. bily says:

    You can give full play to the ability to be employed if the company even if the correct environmental problems. At present, however, is to promote employment of disabled–障害者 people in employment is not about supply and demand. Our jobs and employment opportunities to bridge the gap between the two to achieve the best match.

  20. Cain says:

    Wow the “rightosphere” has picked up ONE FLAWED BBC story and ran with it…

    Here it is Debunked:

    Sorry “Righties” Wrong as usual…

  21. mattzcat says:

    The Earth’s magnetic field shields us from a lot of the Sun’s radiation. Many people claim that the Earth’s polarity is about to reverse. In order to do that, the field must first weaken, allowing a lot more of the Sun’s radiation to fall upon the Earth. Could the increase in radiation striking the Earth be responsible for climate change ?

  22. Logic Deferred says:

    Per #22: No. We’ve plenty of instruments in place, both on the surface and in orbit, to measure with significant precision the amount of radiation coming in and going out.

    Also, “many people claim” …?

    Such an assertion is cognitively vacuous. Show the peer-reviewed research that connects the dots, and name the names specifically. “Many people” believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. As long as I don’t have to justify that assertion with facts, why, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are valid hypotheses, right?