NASA reports hottest November on record, 2009 poised to be second hottest year, Hansen predicts better than 50% chance 2010 will set new record

Must-read Hansen: “I am now inundated with broad FOIA requests for my correspondence, with substantial impact on my time and on others in my office. I believe these to be fishing expeditions, aimed at finding some statement(s), likely to be taken out of context, which they would attempt to use to discredit climate science…. The input data for global temperature analyses are widely available, on our web site and elsewhere. If those input data could be made to yield a significantly different global temperature change, contrarians would certainly have done that — but they have not.”

Fast on the heels of the hottest June to October on record, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports that last month was the hottest November on record, which should be no surprise to CP readers — see my November 24th post:

If November’s anomaly is the same as the anomaly for the last two months, then November will tie for the hottest November in the temperature record.

In fact, last month’s anomaly slightly exceeded that of September and October, which isn’t a big surprise since, as NOAA reported recently, “El Ni±o strengthened from October to November 2009.”

It seems increasingly likely that 2009 will be the second hottest on record in NASA’s dataset, which is superior to the Met Office/Hadley/CRU dataset (see “Why are Hadley and CRU withholding vital climate data from the public?” and Hansen essay below).  The figure above, from GISS (here), which updates the temperature of 2009 through November shows 2009 just edging out 2007.   As my 11/24 post also noted:

This year is currently on track to be the 5th warmest year on record, but, in fact, if the monthly temperature anomaly (compared to the 1951 to 1980 average) stays near where it has been for the last two months, then 2009 will surpass 2007 as the second hottest year on record.

Given how warm November was, December merely needs to be of average warmth (for this decade) for 2009 to be the second warmest in the temperature record.

What makes these record temps especially impressive is that we’re at “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century,” according to NASA.  It’s just hard to stop the march of anthropogenic global warming, well, other than by reducing GHG emissions, that is.

Unlike NOAA, which announced its November global analysis with a major “State of the Climate” monthly update, NASA just quietly updates its data set (here).  NASA will doubtless wait until January to make its big announcement on where 2009 fits in the historical record.  NOAA uses a somewhat different temperature dataset, so, for it, November was only the fourth warmest on record.

Hansen just posted on his website, The Temperature of Science — a must-read piece about the purloined emails and his experience with temperature data,  which I’ll excerpt:

Frequently heard fallacies are that “global warming stopped in 1998” or “the world has been getting cooler over the past decade”. These statements appear to be wishful thinking – it would be nice if true, but that is not what the data show. True, the 1998 global temperature jumped far above the previous warmest year in the instrumental record, largely because 1998 was affected by the strongest El Nino of the century. Thus for the following several years the global temperature was lower than in 1998, as expected.

However, the 5-year and 11-year running mean global temperatures (Figure 3b) have continued to increase at nearly the same rate as in the past three decades. There is a slight downward tick at the end of the record, but even that may disappear if 2010 is a warm year. Indeed, given the continued growth of greenhouse gases and the underlying global warming trend (Figure 3b) there is a high likelihood, I would say greater than 50 percent, that 2010 will be the warmest year in the period of instrumental data. This prediction depends in part upon the continuation of the present moderate El Nino for at least several months, but that is likely.

Furthermore, the assertion that 1998 was the warmest year is based on the East Anglia – British Met Office temperature analysis. As shown in Figure 1, the GISS analysis has 2005 as the warmest year. As discussed by Hansen et al. (2006) the main difference between these analyses is probably due to the fact that British analysis excludes large areas in the Arctic and Antarctic where observations are sparse. The GISS analysis, which extrapolates temperature anomalies as far as 1200 km, has more complete coverage of the polar areas. The extrapolation introduces uncertainty, but there is independent information, including satellite infrared measurements and reduced Arctic sea ice cover, which supports the existence of substantial positive temperature anomalies in those regions.

There’s little doubt that the GISS dataset better matches reality than Hadley/CRU dataset.

Finally, Hansen concludes:

The nature of messages that I receive from the public, and the fact that NASA Headquarters received more than 2500 inquiries in the past week about our possible “manipulation” of global temperature data, suggest that the concerns are more political than scientific. Perhaps the messages are intended as intimidation, expected to have a chilling effect on researchers in climate change.

The recent “success” of climate contrarians in using the pirated East Anglia e-mails to cast doubt on the reality of global warming* seems to have energized other deniers. I am now inundated with broad FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests for my correspondence, with substantial impact on my time and on others in my office. I believe these to be fishing expeditions, aimed at finding some statement(s), likely to be taken out of context, which they would attempt to use to discredit climate science.

There are lessons from our experience about care that must be taken with data before it is made publicly available. But there is too much interesting science to be done to allow intimidation tactics to reduce our scientific drive and output. We can take a lesson from my 5- year-old grandson who boldly says “I don’t quit, because I have never-give-up fighting spirit!”

There are other researchers who work more extensively on global temperature analyses than we do – our main work concerns global satellite observations and global modeling – but there are differences in perspectives, which, I suggest, make it useful to have more than one analysis. Besides, it is useful to combine experience working with observed temperature together with our work on satellite data and climate models. This combination of interests is likely to help provide some insights into what is happening with global climate and information on the data that are needed to understand what is happening. So we will be keeping at it.

*By “success” I refer to their successful character assassination and swift-boating. My interpretation of the e-mails is that some scientists probably became exasperated and frustrated by contrarians – which may have contributed to some questionable judgment. The way science works, we must make readily available the input data that we use, so that others can verify our analyses. Also, in my opinion, it is a mistake to be too concerned about contrarian publications – some bad papers will slip through the peer-review process, but overall assessments by the National Academies, the IPCC, and scientific organizations sort the wheat from the chaff.

The important point is that nothing was found in the East Anglia e-mails altering the reality and magnitude of global warming in the instrumental record. The input data for global temperature analyses are widely available, on our web site and elsewhere. If those input data could be made to yield a significantly different global temperature change, contrarians would certainly have done that – but they have not.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad (global warmed) world.

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30 Responses to NASA reports hottest November on record, 2009 poised to be second hottest year, Hansen predicts better than 50% chance 2010 will set new record

  1. Peter Sinclair says:

    “It seems increasingly likely that 2007 will be the second hottest on record in NASA’s dataset, which is superior to the Met Office/Hadley..”

    I think you mean 2009 here

    [JR: Yes. It’s 2 am here.]

  2. Lamont says:

    “In fact, last month’s anomaly slightly exceeded that of September and October, which isn’t a big surprise since, as NOAA reported recently, “El Niño strengthened from October to November 2009.””

    There’s a lag between ENSO changes and that showing up in the temperature record. What you’re seeing now in the temperature record is probably closer to the summer transition from ENSO-neutral to El Nino conditions. The bulk of the El Nino heating is going to appear next year (which only strengthens the prediction that 2010 will be hot).

  3. Deep Climate says:

    As far as I can tell El Nino has yet to peak, and there is usually a six-month lag wrt global temperature. So I would be surprised if 2010 were *not* a record.

    Note to Joe: More or less OT, but you may be interested in my post on the Wegman report.

  4. mike roddy says:

    The Far Right is good at gaming the system. First they hogtie passage of a climate bill in the Senate by insisting on a 60 vote majority, something unprecedented in my lifetime except in rare circumstances. Then they use legal means to harrass and try to intimidate Dr. Hansen.

    They need to be publicly shamed by the media. I wish a media company would step up here, even if it has to be bought by an outsider.

  5. Bullwinkle says:

    Good point, Mike. One problem, though. They own the media…

  6. Richard Brenne says:

    Bless Jim Hansen. The top thinkers in any field have greater precision of speech than others, and he is a case in point.

    I love his five-year-old grandson saying, “I don’t quit, because I have never-give-up fighting spirit!” I can see where he gets it.

    If the world had to do what only one person said, I’d pick Hansen.

    He might not understand energy and policy and political realities as well as some. So if the world had to do what a committee said, who would be on that committee?

    I’d nominate Hansen, James Lovelock, Stephen Schneider, Bill McKibben, Joe Romm, Al Gore – how about we have a meeting of these and they don’t get to leave the room until they agree?

    I know that’s what Copenhagen is designed to do, but it’s apparently become too large, unwieldy, cumbersome and committed to business as usual. First I’d like to see the best minds agree on the appropriate course of action and then work to see that action implemented.

    I’d like to hear who the others are that others feel should be on such a committee: Monckton? Inhofe? Watt? Limbaugh? Okay, enough with the hell jokes, who else? Pauchuri? Gore? Trenberth? Solomon?

  7. Mark Shapiro says:

    These FOIA requests amount to a denial of service attack (as others have observed). That plus the death threats and other nasty emails . . .

    Deep Climate’s report on Wegman could use some exposure in the press.

  8. Tom Street says:

    On the eve of what appears to be a fiasco at Copenhagen, this is sad but not surprising news. If only it were true that global warming has peaked. There may not be a place in hell for the deniers but our descendents will experience hell on earth.

    Thank goodness for this site and free speech TV for keeping us abreast on what is happening at Copenhagen.

  9. David Lewis says:

    Hansen appeared on Bloomberg Surveillance recently as part of his media blitz attacking cap and trade during the Copenhagen negotiations. Whatever anyone thinks about what Hansen is doing on the policy front, he was great in this interview defending climate science. He referred to the NAS. It was simple, and powerful:

    Tom Keene: … the emails coming in to me and Ken right now – are really unkind. Why is there so much doubt about global warming? Why do we have so many listeners who just don’t believe that its heating up?”

    Jim Hansen: “I think that the forces that would prefer to have continued business as usual have been very effective in influencing the public discussion. The fossil fuel industry has helped to support the deniers. But if you go to, say, the National Academy of Sciences, and, ask them, for an assessment, in fact President Bush did that. And he was very surprised at how strong the statement was that came back from the National Academy of Sciences. Which affirmed that, yes, global warming is real, and humans are causing it, and we need to do something about it. So the science is clear. But the politics becomes… more….

    Tom Keene: “It becomes murky like the atmosphere of Venus”.

  10. Jim’s been right pretty much from the start. (and under attack, pretty much from the start)
    And record heat will at least underline the argument as the politics develops in DC this spring

  11. If we are going to shoot down the “it’s been cooling” fallacy by claiming at least 15 years of data is required to have a statistically significant trend, then we must all be careful not to trumpet the warmth of 2009 or 2010 too much. I further suggest that when we do discuss 2009 and 2010 that we remind people that a year or two does not a trend make, just to be consistent in our arguments.

    [JR: I don’t agree. You talk about both, hottest is hottest. AND long-term trend is long-term trend.]

    Tamino has a superb series here:

    The more important issue to raise is that despite global cooling claims, this decade is the warnest ever and each decade in the past three has been warmer than the one before.

    It is also a good idea to remind people that the sun is “weak” now and we are still getting a near-record warm year. That helps to show folks that the sun is not as big a factor as the contrarians suggest.

  12. WeatherRusty says:

    The main argument put forth by the deniers I deal with is that the past 10-12 year period falls well short of IPCC projections, even as CO2 concentration continues to rise. They don’t care whether the short term “trend” is one of cooling, flat or even rising. The blame “flawed” computer modeling and a lack of fundamental knowledge of “parameters” and initial inputs. If 2010 is a record breaker, so what, it will still be well below projections and well within the norms of natural variability.

    Statistical arguments defining the trend are “cherry picking” based on to short a record, even as they cherry pick 1998. I ran Tamino’s article by them and they told me I misunderstood what he was saying!

    I try to argue basic physics with them, you know like 3.7W/m^2 (~0.85W) radiative forcing and paleoclimate derived estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity etc. to no avail.

    These are for the most part professional meteorologists with clear right wing political leanings. Every one should be aware, the debate is a politic one rather than a scientific one, at least amongst the general public. The deniers exist for one purpose only, not to advance the science, but to confuse the body politic. For these people, their ideological base makes it impossible for them to accept the scientific basis for AGW. No amount of evidence will convince them short of a mathematical proof at which point they would be trapped in a logical box. Since that will never happen, they are free to obfuscate the scientific investigation of a complex system for ever. With the swift-boat e-mail stunt they have really turned up the heat and pressure on the scientific community to fight back. Ignoring the swift-boating was John Kerry’s big mistake, and so will it be that of climate science if they don’t respond forcefully and publicly. How is the question?

  13. Wim Prange says:

    I would like to see a coordinated ‘attack’ on the “it’s the Sun” crowd for once and put them on the spot to defend their ‘theory’. For instance, in the last two decennia, the hottest years have all come at different moments in the sunspot cycle: 1998 was between min-max; 2005 was between max-min; 2009 was during “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century”.

  14. Despite the politics at play, science must march on and report back the truth on climate change. It’s then up to those of us paying attention to push for real change at the national level, both government & corporate, based on facts, and our push must be relentless, as so much is at stake.

  15. Leif says:

    New research on the “dramatic cooling” of the upper atmosphere in response to low solar out put. (As predicted by SCIENCE.)
    Gosh, if it ain’t the sun, I wonder what it could be?

  16. Ted Nation says:

    One of the latest lines of attack bouncing around the denialist echo chamber is a report by the Russian Institute of Economic Analysis accusing CRU of cherry picking temperature data points in Russia. (See The Russian IEA is close to Putin and hardly an independent scientific body so one has to be suspicious of their product. CRU has responded saying,

    “It’s the World Meteorological Organization that chooses the stations for use in climate monitoring,” Met Office spokesman John Hammond said by phone from Devon, England. “Locations are evenly distributed around the globe. The Met Office doesn’t chose the observation points, and therefore it’s impossible for us to tamper with the data.”

    Nevertheless, since McIntyre and friends are giving this report broad distribution, a detailed critque of the report by ClimateProgress, RealClmate or others would be useful.

  17. Chris Winter says:

    Both Dr. Hansen and Stephen Schneider have popular books out. Hansen’s is Storms of My Grandchildren and Schneider’s is <bScience as a Contact Sport. These will be useful references and perhaps, in the spirit of the season, effective gifts for any contrarians or undecided people you might have on your list.

  18. Dano says:

    Ted Nation,

    Deep Climate and Deltoid have already shown the ‘report’ from the Cato Senior Fellow is hooey, and Lambert showed it supported the CRU data.



  19. Deep Climate says:

    #16, #18

    No, Dano, that wasn’t me (I have dealt with a lot of McIntyre’s other claims, though). I don’t know who else got into the Russian IEA report, but Deltoid’s treatment was great.

  20. From Peru says:

    Here, as I write this comment from my home in Lima, Peru, there are 27ºC.
    In just a week we have warmed near 6-7ºC. I think finally El Niño arrived to my country.

    According to NOAA Climate Prediction Center, El Niño waters hit West South America Coast last week, in front of Ecuador. But if you look at the SST Anomaly graphs at the following NOAA websites:

    you see that while the moderate-to-strong warm waters of El Niño had reached Northern Peruvian Coast, there is still a strong tongue of cold waters just south of the El Niño area.

    This show the clash between the warm waters of the Counter-Equatorial Current (called by Peruvians “El Niño Current”) and the cold, Antarctic waters of the Peruvian Current(or Humboldt Current, after its German discoverer in mid 1800s). This cold current almost disappeared in 1997(so the El Niño waters arrived without any barriers to its spread), but now both are “fighting to control the Peruvian Coast”.

    And now began the list of “High Water” events:

    1)This Tuesday(15 December 2009)the sea flooded the coast of the Port City of Callao, east of the Lima Center.

    Maybe that was caused by a combination of waves from the clash of currents (the “frontline” is now in front of the Central Coast waters were Lima and Callao were built) and the 10-15 centimeter sea level rise that ocurrs as water warms and expands (El Niño sea level rise is in the order of 10-20cm and that sea level anomaly closely follows the warm, exanded El Niño waters) as is shown in the NOAA CPC website:

    2) Two days ago, an excepcional rainfall hit the South Central Andes and a mudflow covered part of the city of Huamanga, capital of the Ayacucho Region. The Center was missed by 100 meters and 10 people were killed. Now Ayacucho was declared in “State of Emergency”. Heavy rainfall is forecasted for the Southern Peruvian Andes in the next days.
    Similar events happened in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, were tens of people were killed and thousands displaced by flash-floods.

    I don’t know if El Niño has anything to do with this, as it usually causes heavy flooding in the PACIFIC Coast, while the Andes and the Amazon Basin(that is, in the Atlantic Hidrographic Basin)are affected by severe DROUGHT. This flooding is something VERY, VERY STRANGE.

    I hope Lima is not the next in the of flooded cities (in 1998 a mudflow missed the Lima Center by less than 1 Km, fortunately I live 10 Km from the Center, so I knew this disaster by the Newspapers)

  21. Dano says:

    Maybe it was greenfyre then…somebody else wrote up a good’un. Too much going on!

    I see that Obama reached a deal with China and S Aftrica…the denialists must be s—- their pants after they hoped SwiftHack would engender delay.

    Let us all have a moment of silence for the sadness of the delayers, deniers and pseudoskeptics…




  22. Dave (BC) says:

    Let’s have another moment of silence for all of the poor U.S. taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for this. Higher taxes are definitely not the answer (even Hansen knows that).

    At least the politicians can go home in style in their 140 private jets and 1,200 limos before being pummeled by their constituents (and hopefully voted out of office) once reality sets in.

    PS–the need to use derogatory labels is childish and reveals one’s insecurity.


    An Overtaxed Skeptic

  23. Anna Haynes says:

    re Chris Winter’s “Dr. Hansen and Stephen Schneider have popular books out….These will be…perhaps…effective gifts for any contrarians or undecided people you might have on your list”

    – it’s a nice thought, and they deserve the sales, but if my own contrarian is representative, the message needs to come from a source with pre-existing, non-climate, scientific credibility. For example, Scientific American – which was only 25 bucks for a gift subscription, last I checked.
    (fyi, I have no connection with S.A.)

  24. WeatherRusty says:

    Dave (BC)

    No one enjoys paying taxes, but to deny the science because of the implications the science may have on your payment of taxes is not very scientific.

    In a scientific investigation/discussion of climate change, what place does consequential impact to society have on the physics of the climate system? Can you not separate the two?

  25. Dave,

    Would you say that you are of a “conservative ideology?” Joe Romm may be allowing me to guest post a thread that shows why conservatives should be worried about global warming. I will be eliciting constructive criticism and would appreciate your input.

    Stay tuned…..

  26. Dano says:

    I like how “overtaxed pseudoskeptics” never mention how much they’ll pay under business as usual.

    Of course, most analyses say it will cost folk MORE than the cost of action, but hey what’s a small detail when th’ gummint is coercing away our fraydum??




  27. kiwi says:

    Overtaxed sceptic

    Taxation or no taxation, this is an issue that must be confronted. In any event, the “no taxation” creed has been an utter failure. What do you think will fund the bailout of the “no taxers”?

  28. Mike says:

    Hey, anybody in Virginia notice the crapload of snow. Global warming indeed. Coldest November indeed.

  29. Mike #28:

    Take a guess which season we are approaching and in which season it typically snows – global warming or not. :)

  30. Leif says:

    Mike, #28: Your ignorance prevents you from knowing the basic difference between weather and climate. A few weeks ago on this very site there was a very informative graph and article pointing out that even though the world was warming there are STILL record “colds” being broken. It just so happens that record “warm” is happening twice as many times as record “cold”. Back in the ’60s” that ratio was about one to one.
    So if you refuse to make an effort enlighten yourself take your infantile arguments some where else.