UK Met Office: Global warming plus El Ni±o means it’s “more likely than not that 2010 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record.”

Barring a major volcano, of course

The UK’s Met Office (originally the Meteorological Office), which is part of its Ministry of Defence, predicted yesterday on its website:

A combination of man-made global warming and a moderate warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon known as El Ni±o, means it is very likely that 2010 will be a warmer year globally than 2009.

Recently released figures confirm that 2009 is expected to be the fifth-warmest year in the instrumental record that dates back to 1850.

The latest forecast from our climate scientists, shows the global temperature is forecast to be almost 0.6 °C above the 1961-90 long-term average. This means that it is more likely than not that 2010 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record, beating the previous record year which was 1998.

A record warm year in 2010 is not a certainty, especially if the current El Ni±o was to unexpectedly decline rapidly near the start of 2010, or if there was a large volcanic eruption. We will review the forecast during 2010 as observation data become available.

NASA made a preliminary prediction along these lines back in January, and recently NASA scientists have reiterated it; moreover, it seems unlikely that El Ni±o will soon decline rapidly.

What’s news here is that the prediction was made by the Met Office, which uses the Hadley/CRU dataset — a dataset that excludes the Arctic, “just where recent warming has been greatest” (see “Why are Hadley and CRU withholding vital climate data from the public?“).

If this record is set, it’ll be in spite of the fact that we’re at “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.”  Such is the march of anthropogenic global warming.

The Met Office reaffirms its 2007 prediction from the journal Science that it’s going to get much warmer over the next few years (see “Climate Forecast: Hot “” and then Very Hot“)”:

Looking further ahead, our experimental decadal forecast confirms previous indications that about half the years 2010-2019 will be warmer than the warmest year observed so far “” 1998.

Interestingly, that study also had predicted slower warming in this decade:  “Our system predicts that internal variability will partially offset the anthropogenic global warming signal for the next few years.”

The Met Office provides some further background on its prediction today:

  • The 1961-90 global average mean temperature is 14.0 °C.
  • Global temperature for 2010 is expected to be 14.58 °C, the warmest on record.
  • The warmest year on record is 1998, which reached 14.52 °C, was a year dominated by an extreme El Ni±o
  • Over the ten years, 2000-2009, since the Met Office has issued forecasts of annual global temperature, the mean value of the forecast error is 0.06 °C.
  • Interannual variations of global surface temperature are strongly affected by the warming influences of El Ni±o and the cooling influences of La Ni±a in the Pacific Ocean. 2009, with a provisionally observed temperature of 14.44 °C, can be compared with the identical forecast value of 14.44 °C.

The Met Office, in collaboration with the University of East Anglia, maintains a global temperature record which is used in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Each December or January the Met Office, in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, issues a forecast of the global surface temperature for the coming year. The forecast takes into account known contributing factors, such as El Ni±o and La Ni±a, increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the cooling influences of industrial aerosol particles, solar effects, volcanic cooling effects if known, and natural variations of the oceans.

Looks like it may be a close thing for 2010 setting the Met Office record, but again that is mostly the result of ignoring the rapid warming in the Arctic over the past decade.

For NASA, 2005 was the warmest year and 2007 second, though 2009 could edge out 2007, as will soon find out (see “Must-see NASA figures compare 2009 to the two hottest years on record: 2005 and 2007“).  The likelihood of 2010 being the warmest year for NASA would seem to be much higher.

Next year should be very interesting.


23 Responses to UK Met Office: Global warming plus El Ni±o means it’s “more likely than not that 2010 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record.”

  1. WAG says:

    Ah, but those temperatures are “adjusted.” :-)

    I commented this on Tim Lambert’s blog yesterday, but it’s worth repeating. What’s truly ironic about the “they’re adjusting the raw data!” meme is that the raw data is what Watts et al attack as unreliable (, the urban heat island effect, etc.). Deniers say that siting problems and other errors render the raw data unreliable, and then they say that adjusting for those siting errors is evidence of fraud. You know deniers are being truly disingenuous when they attack both the raw data AND the use of statistical techniques to adjust for the errors in the raw data.

    Of course, that’s just the start of deniers’ hypocrisy. I’ve started a list of all the examples of this hypocrisy. I’ve come up with 11 for a start – feel free to add more.

  2. MarkB says:

    For comparison, this was last year’s MetOffice prediction:

    “Global temperature for 2009 is expected to be 14.44 °C, the warmest since 2005, when the value was 14.48 °C.”

    which so far appears to be spot on:

    As can be seen, the anomaly so far for 2009 (through October) is 0.04 less than 2005. Given the el Nino, the last couple of months will likely push the anomaly up a bit, but well within margin of error.

    Their 2008 forecast was within about 0.05 C. However, their 2007 forecast was off by more than 0.1 C, due to the quick weakening of el Nino and rapid development of la Nina that year. They do note that their average forecast error is 0.06.

    They should probably note, as GISS does, that long-term warming from human activities and the short-term el Nino influence is countered a bit by very low solar activity. They only briefly mention solar variation.


    I liked your comment on Friedman’s article. I wonder if he reads those. Folks should urge him to issue a correction.

  3. Thank you for staying on top of this.

    In some rational sense, the year to year story shouldn’t matter at all. In the real world, it clearly does, perhaps decisively. It’s worth remembering how important the viciously hot summer of 1988 in the US was to everyone understanding the issue from the start.

  4. While I cannot provide any scientific documentation to back up the observation, Florida is experiencing bizarre weather for the winter, well outside my life experience … specifically, winter was a solid block of blue-sky interrupted occasionally by cold fronts coming from the North, now winter has become increasingly cloudier and the clouds are coming from the South to Southwest.

    It is a real tragedy to realize that humankind will recognize the danger of climate change several decades too late to avoid the consequences. The 21st century isn’t going to treat humankind or civilization well.

  5. clarkbeast says:

    Bill, you’re absolutely right about the “real world” impact it’s likely to have. I had been wondering why Copenhagen was scheduled for December, the public being less likely to take the issue seriously when the headlines were full of winter storms and hard freezes. A record-breaking 2010 will, at the very least, take away even the misleading, cherry-picking argument for a “current cooling trend.”

  6. cce says:

    I wish these agencies would stop making such short term predictions. “More likely than not” is all well and good, but if it turns out to be “not” it’s just more fodder for the “skeptics.” A similar claim was made for 2007, which started out with very high El Nino inflated temps (in the case of GISS, the highest on record), but by the end of the year La Nina was in full swing. The same goes for claims about sea ice. i.e. “50/50 chance no ice at the north pole.”

    These statements accomplish nothing. If 2010 is the warmest year on record, it will speak for itself. Likewise, if there is an open expanse of water at the North Pole, such an event won’t need to be hyped months in advance.

    [JR: You didn’t read what they wrote. This is what they do. They forecast. That’s what NOAA/NCEP does.]
    PR based on odds slightly better than a coin toss. Not my idea of a good bet.

  7. Craig says:

    “In some rational sense, the year to year story shouldn’t matter at all. In the real world, it clearly does, perhaps decisively. It’s worth remembering how important the viciously hot summer of 1988 in the US was to everyone understanding the issue from the start.”

    I’ve always thought that irrational arguments deserve to be criticized, regardless of which side is presenting the argument. To do otherwise is to risk your credibility. I’m sure it is very tempting to give a lot of press to unusual weather events which seem to support a pattern of unusual warming. But it can easily backfire if the usual event is followed by a reversion to the mean which can then be presented as a cooling event.

  8. cce says:

    “2010 is expected to be extremely warm” is a good forecast.

    “Global temperature for 2010 is expected to be 14.58 °C, the warmest on record” is not a good forecast given a probability of “more likely than not”.

  9. dhogaza says:

    I wish these agencies would stop making such short term predictions.

    Well, but this is a huge area of research, and at heart it has nothing to do with AGW stuff … golden fleece or holy grail significance would be to be able to forecast next year conditions in (say) the UK (for UK MET) to guide farmers (for instance) in choices they make vs. crops to grow, planting times, etc.

    I’m glad they put themselves out there for global and UK forecasts (the UK ones aren’t terribly accurate, not surprising, given she’s an island subject to highly unpredictable ocean events and ocean-land interactions).

  10. David Scott says:

    I could be paddling a rowboat down Market Street in San Francisco after the poles have melted, and there will still be conservative fanatics who deny that humans are responsible for Global Warming or that it is even real. I invite you to my web-pages devoted to raising awareness on this urgent issue:

  11. USpace says:

    I don’t see the evidence as to why 2010 should be so hot, besides, a .6 increase in warming hardly seems alarming anyway. Also, if CO2 is 50% heavier than the air how can it rise all the way high up in the atmosphere and then stay there?

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    ignore Sun’s activity

    fire thousands of scientists
    who say warming comes first

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    create a HUGE industry

    only employ those millions
    who perpetuate its lies

  12. BBHY says:

    Clarkbeast, I don’t think you understand the skeptics very well. Any unusually warm year is simply a blip in the data and does not indicate any trend, (even if there are several in a row, doesn’t matter), yet any slightly cooler year means the end of warming and the start of a new ice age.

    It’s time to stop trying to convince the skeptics and just ignore them. There just isn’t enough time to waste on them.

  13. Jeffrey Davis says:

    I don’t think arguing with skeptics is a good idea. What we’re facing are people who have a financial stake in Business As Usual, the intellectually vain whose political ideas forbid any degree of “environmentalism”, and ordinary partisanship. Skepticism and doubt aren’t simply mechanical responses. Each require a rational basis.

    Keep at the science, publish the results, and hope for the best.

  14. dhogaza says:

    Also, if CO2 is 50% heavier than the air how can it rise all the way high up in the atmosphere and then stay there?

    Indeed! Come to think of it, how does the *air* stay up there? It should all be lying on the ground!

  15. Leif says:

    dhogaza, #14; Guess what, all the air is laying on the ground as hard as gravity will allow on a sphere this size. Just a few miles up there is very little air and only a few more miles almost nothing. Fortunately uneven heating by the sun causes the air to mix with a process called “wind” without which we would have been dead meat long ago. (Look what happens to a city in only a few days of no wind.) I hope that Anti-Science Sink Hole above is still paying attention and not just a troll.

  16. mark says:

    off topic, but, I am very glad I found this website, with some news of positive developments.

    Aside from the deniers, there are a lot of extremely negative opinions being rendered about the steps being taken to solve this crisis.

    So thank you very much.

  17. Chris Winter says:

    Spot on, dhogaza. Not only that, but “If carbon dioxide traps heat, then how is cold beer possible?”

    I found that particular gem on a Heritage Foundation blog early this year. And when I checked 15 minutes ago, it was still there.

    Anyone curious can go here

    and scroll down to comment #4. I’m still undecided whether or not to call Poe on it.

  18. Alex J says:

    If memory serves, “USpace”, the mass of a water vapor molecule is greater than that of a nitrogen atom. “Air” being mostly nitrogen, how is it that we get stratospheric clouds, a water vapor greenhouse effect feedback, or snowfall at high altitudes? And time & repetition don’t seem to make the petition project any more credible:

  19. dhogaza says:

    Chris Winter, thanks for that link, it’s hilarious …

  20. Lamont says:

    what makes the sky blue? it can’t be aerosols and particulates scattering the blue light out of sunlight because those are both heavier than O2 and N2 so they clearly fall out of the atmosphere onto the ground. everything that we know about blue sky is clearly false and is just a conspiracy of physicists and atmospheric scientists.

    given that we’re having at least a moderate el nino this winter, 2010 is likely to be warm, and is unlikely that we’ll have anything other than ENSO-neutral or very weak la nina next winter. as the heat pulse from this el nino propagates northwards to the arctic (one of el ninos functions is to transfer heat from the tropics to higher latitudes), we should see very low sea ice in 2010 or 2011…

    by 2012 we should start to see solar cycle 24 heat up and that’ll cause OHC to rise and by 2014 or so we should see el nino years unlike anything to date…

  21. USpace says:

    There are thousands of PHD scientist whose consensus is that Humans do not cause climate-change.

    Behold the wise words of Michael Crichton:

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

  22. Leif says:

    USpace: I agree with every thing in that particular Michael Crichton quote except the conclusion that you are attempting to derive. Just because you or someone goes against the status quo does NOT automatically make them correct. In science if one FACT can be proven and repeated to go against conventional wisdom then science has always capitulated. The problem is that the Anti-Science folks have fail time and again to present any facts that have withstood the test of time. So when you trot out the same dribble time and again without factoring in the pertinent peer reviewed science to date you must be classified as anti-science dogma and not science. The classic: for a while every one in a certain part of the world agreed that the earth was flat. One person was able to prove them wrong. On the other hand Now almost all, consensus, is convinced that the earth is round. That is science. Just because you say flat does not make you right. If you can show me for a fact that the earth is in fact flat with repeatable results, you will win. Again science. Otherwise you are pissing in the wind.

  23. Leif says:

    USpace: Upon rereading your statement above it is not very clear just which side of the AGW position you are trying to support. I assumed you were arguing for the “not happening” side from your previous post. #11