Breaking: 2009 hottest year on record in Southern Hemisphere and tied for second globally

2010 still poised to be hottest year on record despite cool start in parts of Northern Hemisphere

Note:  The NASA results are not yet official, but should be Friday.  The figure above does not have the December data, but the final figure will look almost identical.

Eli Kintisch at Science Magazine just published, “2009 Hottest Year on Record in Southern Hemisphere.”  He quoted NASA mathematician Reto Ruedy of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies on the as-yet-not-released December and yearly data.  We’ve all been waiting for NASA’s final report on the year — to see whether 2009 will be the second hottest year on record (see Must-see NASA figures compare 2009 to the two hottest years on record: 2005 and 2007) and whether NASA would make an official prediction that 2010 is likely to be the hottest on record, as the UK’s Met Office has and as Hansen himself did (here).

So I called up Dr. Ruedy, and he said that the data have been processed but won’t be released officially until Friday, as they are awaiting completion of the accompanying report.  Here’s the story.

As Science reports:

The United States may be experiencing one of the coldest winters in decades, but things continue to heat up in the Southern Hemisphere. Science has obtained … data from NASA that indicates that 2009 was the hottest year on record south of the Equator. The find adds to multiple lines of evidence showing that the 2000s were the warmest decade in the modern instrumental record.Southern Hemisphere temperatures can serve as a trailing indicator of global warming, says NASA mathematician Reto Ruedy of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, given that that part of the globe is mostly water, which warms more slowly and with less variability than land. Ruedy says 2009 temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere were 0.49°C warmer than the period between 1951 and 1980, with an error of +/- 0.05°C.

I asked Ruedy if indeed 2009 was the second hottest year on record and he said yes, and then quickly clarified that, given the error bars on the temperature record (see figure), it’s really best to call it a 3-way tie with 1998 and 2007.  In fact, he said, 2005 is “only marginally warmer than” the second hottest years.

This is especially impressive because we’re at “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.”  The point is, notwithstanding the all-too-effective disinformation campaign of the antiscience crowd, it’s getting hotter — thanks primarily to human emissions — much as climate scientists warned it would:

That makes 2009 the warmest year on record in that hemisphere. That’s significant because the second-warmest year, 1998, saw the most severe recorded instance in the 20th century of El Ni±o, a cyclic warming event in the tropical Pacific. During El Ni±o events, heat is redistributed from deep water to the surface, which raises ocean temperatures and has widespread climatic effects. But last year was an El Ni±o year of medium strength, which Ruedy says might mean that the warmer temperatures also show global, long-term warming as well as the regional trend.

The data come a month after announcements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and by the World Meterological Organization that the decade of the 2000s was warmer than the 1990s. (NOAA estimates that the decade was 0.54°C warmer than the 20th century average. The 1990s, by comparison, was 0.36°C warmer by their measure.)

You should be able to read the NASA report Friday here and see their updated dataset here.

In its report last January on “2008 Global Temperatures,” NASA predicted:

Given our expectation of the next El Ni±o beginning in 2009 or 2010, it still seems likely that a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years, despite the moderate negative effect of the reduced solar irradiance.

Well, they were right about the El Ni±o.  It’s true that the El Ni±o is only medium strength, but on the other hand “Central Pacific Ocean surface temperatures are now at their warmest level since the El Ni±o of 1997-98″³ but many models suggest it will last through the spring and possibly the summer (see Met Office: “It is not cold everywhere in the world”).  Given the underlying long-term trend of global warming from human emissions, that should be enough to make this year the hottest on record.  We’ll find out tomorrow if NASA s willing to make that prediction official.

Finally, while other datasets don’t show 2009 as the second hottest year, notably the UK’s Met Office (and hence WMO), that dataset certainly lowballs the actually landed planetary temperature, as the Met Office itself now admits — see Finally, the truth about the Hadley/CRU data: “The global temperature rise calculated by the Met Office’s HadCRUT record is at the lower end of likely warming.”

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54 Responses to Breaking: 2009 hottest year on record in Southern Hemisphere and tied for second globally

  1. Tom Deltin says:

    And these records are including data lost by the Met Office? Why should we trust this report?

    [JR: 1) This is NASA data, if you actually read the post before commenting on it. 2) The Met Office hasn’t “lost” data. Seriously. Read and think for yourself.]

  2. Tom Deltin says:

    NASA Caught in Climate Data Manipulation

  3. t_p_hamilton says:

    Tom Deltin resorts to innuendo…
    “NASA Caught in Climate Data Manipulation”. Caught implies hiding something. Please tell us what manipulation that NASA does which is not public on their web site. Second, manipulation is not the same thing as fabrication. Averaging two numbers is a manipulation. My bet is Tom has NO IDEA, and is only repeating something from a disinformation site.

  4. Mike#22 says:

    Tom Deltin is referring to tonight’s airing of John Coleman’s KUSI-TV Climate Special where the journalist Mr. Coleman will continue trying to convince people that the world is in the grip of a giant conspiracy of evil scientists who are planning to get rich by selling carbon credits and they should all be sued and brought to trial where at last the real truth will come out because once the experts get done testifying nobody will believe the scientists anymore.

  5. dhogaza says:

    NASA Caught in Climate Data Manipulation

    Nest, Tom will expose the massive NASA conspiracy in which thousands of Inuit, armed with heat lamps, have been deployed across the Arctic ice cap, manipulating that climate data by artificially melting ice.

  6. Richard C says:

    Gullible – cf. Tom Deltin

  7. Neven says:

    From the astute Tom Deltin’s link:

    “The report reveals that there were no actual temperatures left in the computer database when NASA/NCDC proclaimed 2005 as “THE WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD.” The NCDC deleted actual temperatures at thousands of locations throughout the world as it changed to a system of global grid points, each of which is determined by averaging the temperatures of two or more adjacent weather observation stations. So the NCDC grid map contains only averaged, not real temperatures, giving rise to significant doubt that the result is a valid representation of Earth temperatures.”

    This means that 2009 is after all the warmest year on record! Thanks for clearing that up, Tom!

  8. PSU Grad says:

    Calling Mr. Cavuto…….Calling Mr. Cavuto……..

  9. SecularAnimist says:

    Commenter Tom Deltin is the perfect example of an individual who gullibly, slavishly, obediently, unhesitatingly believes every bit of inane drivel that the so-called “right wing” media spoon-feeds him … and calls himself a “skeptic”.

  10. MarkB says:

    “The United States may be experiencing one of the coldest winters in decades, but things continue to heat up in the Southern Hemisphere. ”

    It’s actually been quite warm in the northern hemisphere as well, just not on average in the 1.5% of the Earth that the continental U.S. makes up, or in Europe. Ocean surface temperatures I believe are at or beyond record levels. The HADSST2 anomaly for December, 2009 was the highest on record for December. HadCrut3 looks like it will be 5th, or perhaps statistically tied for 3rd.

    For the gamblers, Intrade has a contract for 2010 being the warmest on record, using GISS data. I believe it’s currently trading at 25%, indicating a 3 to 1 payout if you bet on 2010 being the warmest. Perhaps the recent eastern U.S. cold weather and “mini ice age” garbage is fooling some traders. Sounds like a good bet. I guess global warming denial propaganda can serve a useful purpose!

    I look forward to reading John Coleman’s amusing claims in an academic journal (snicker). Looks like a bit of damage control.

  11. Lou Grinzo says:

    And here we have the denier game plan, played out in living color.

    Joe posts a story about big climate news, and the discussion instantly gets sidetracked by a member of the flying hordes of deniers that swarm from site to site.

    Here’s a siggestion, albeit hardly an original one: DON’T FEED THE FREAKIN’ TROLLS!!!

  12. More bad news for climate from the Guardian: leaking of the strong greenhouse gas methane from the warming Arctic permafrost grew by 31% in 5 years! Although the time series is short, this sure looks like a ‘positive’ (strengthening) feedback from the temperature increase in the Arctic region:

  13. Stuart says:

    I looked at Intrade – interesting! They also have a line on if 2010 will be warmer than 2009 that is trading at the same level. I will take that bet.

    Here in northern Minnesota we have had a fairly mild winter, particularly compared to the last two. Thank you El Nino.

  14. Neven says:

    Temperatures on the denialist dataset of choice, the UAH satellite measurements (channel 05), have also been surpassing all other years, including the 20 year record temperatures, for the past few days:

    Today it was exactly 1.00 degree F warmer than this day in 2009, meaning Global Cooling has been reversed. WUWT? Where’s Michael Asher from DailyTech telling us that a “twelve-month long drop rise in world temperatures wipes out a century year of warming cooling”. Michael Asher, where are you? What are you writing about?

  15. Mike McMack says:

    “2009 had warmest temperature on record.”

    So what? Does anyone think that global temperatures remain constant throughout history?

    [JR: No. The best science says that global temperatures primarily change it when they are forced to change. Those forcings have, historically, been natural — but now human emissions have overwhelmed the natural forcings and are now driving the climate. So “what” is going to happen if we keep listening to the anti-science crowd, as you seem to, is that global temperatures will continue to rise at a faster and faster rate this century, until we ultimately destroy a livable climate.]

  16. Per #15, M. McMack:

    “Doc, I’ve got this huge, tumorous growth on my neck!”

    “So what? Does anyone think that the human body remains constant throughout its lifespan?”

    (Deniers always share such cogent analyses.)

  17. Larry Coleman says:

    Mike, I really do not understand your point. You seem to be saying that, since temperature varies, having the highest temperature on record is not significant in the context of the global warming issue. Which raises the question of what would be significant. You seem to rule out any temperature increase as being relevant. Wow! Hard to get my mind around that one.

  18. Chris Dudley says:


    Way to be on the story.

  19. caerbannog says:

    Tom Deltin is referring to tonight’s airing of John Coleman’s KUSI-TV Climate Special where the journalist Mr. Coleman will continue trying to convince people that the world is in the grip of a giant conspiracy

    Regarding Coleman’s “special”…. One of the perks of living in San Diego is being able to watch KUSI (not!). I’ll be recording Coleman’s program tonight so you guys don’t have to. (No need to thank me for “taking one for the team”).

    Local wingnut talk-radio host Rick Roberts (KFMB San Diego) has been flogging Coleman’s special all week. Roberts will be taking calls from his fans to discuss Coleman and the global-warming “fraud” tomorrow during his time slot (5-9AM PST). If you wish, you can listen to him at via streaming audio. (But then again, maybe you’d rather not). Roberts, BTW, is San Diego’s #1 talk-radio host; he has a very large following here.

    Roberts did an interview with Coleman a couple of days ago. The interview is available as a podcast at Roberts and Coleman were in full tinfoil-hat mode during the interview — just warning ya.

    What I find especially disturbing about all this is even though San Diego is home to one of the world’s leading climate-research facilities (the Scripps Institution of Oceanography), San Diego county residents hear a lot more about global-warming from kooks like Roberts and Coleman (who are leading media personalities here) than they do from Scripps.

    So to anyone here who might know any folks at Scripps, please give them a heads up about what Coleman and Roberts are up to. It’s past time for Scripps to lay the smackdown on our local global-warming misinformers.

    What I would like to see happen is for Scripps to hold a press conference taking Coleman, Roberts, and the other local media wingnuts to task for misleading the public. Scripps should invite KUSI’s and KFMB’s competitors to the press conference.

    On the local radio/tv stations here, we hear a lot more from the loony wingnuts than we do from the world-class climate-researchers who live right in here in our own town! That’s an absolute travesty.

  20. K. Nockels says:

    The world is getting hotter but it’s not so much where it’s hot and where it’s not(even though it look’s like little to no snow for the Winter Olympics) it’s the whip-saw affect. From cold and snow to melt and heavy rain and back again. Crop losses in the near future from weather gone wild and off seasonal norms, will be the big tell in how global climate change is going to affect everyone. History tells it pretty clearly, as our planet warms, extremes will cause the big impacts, unpredictability is the one thing that our modern civilization doesn’t cope well with. The constant disasters will severely strain our ability to adapt.

  21. David B. Benson says:

    What K. Nockels wrote in comment #20.

    [Third attempt to post this comment.]

  22. colinc says:

    Mr. Nockels (#20), I do believe you’ve nailed the crux of the matter most succinctly! Good on ya’ as crop and agriculture reports from across the globe are less and less “optimistic” year after year. However, the real “egg” in the nest is what will populations and nations do when a “large enough” percentage of the citizenry, everywhere, are going hungry and thirsty? Of course, the majority here in the USA (and elsewhere?) _believe_ “it can’t happen here!” Isn’t “belief” a remarkable construct?!

  23. Leif says:

    K. Nockels, #20: I fully agree. Our eyes have been focused on the hardest portion of the equation to visualize when we look at “warming,” as in global warming. (Average 0.5C world over. Kind of hard to tell the difference in Minnesota from -20F to -19F in the winter.) The oceans, being a huge “heat sink,” assures that effects of heat will lag the effects of “energy.” When more energy is in the system however, oscillations, jet streams, storms, floods etc. all become noticeably vigorous. The oceans have absorbed the majority of the energy, like the big efficient battery it is. Look at the noticeable effects an El Nino, with changes of only a degree or two, can have on weather systems. Now visualize the whole worlds oceans a degree warmer. And added humidity from increased evaporation to fall as rain or snow in the winter. If I were a prudent sailer I would be battening down the hatches about now. As my ancestors would say- “Never go to sea in a boat you would not be proud to have as your coffin.”

  24. colinc says:

    Leif (#23), great follow-up… and a fine segue for this _important_ article I had not seen before today. I think it “should be” required reading far and wide! It contains some highly relevant information directly related to your comment and neck of the woods.

    The Source of Europe’s Mild Climate
    The notion that the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping Europe anomalously warm turns out to be a myth

  25. Stuart says:

    K. Nockels @ 20 – Exactly! And I really like the term Whipsaw Effect – I think it could be catchy.

  26. gallopingcamel says:

    This article is remarkable in its denial of reality. This may explain why few people trust NASA/GISS data sets any more.

  27. Doug Bostrom says:

    gallopingcamel says: January 15, 2010 at 2:04 am

    Sounds like you caught the “weather report” on KUSI?

    Here’s a suggestion. Over the next few days, buttonhole 100 strangers, ask them “Do you trust the NASA/GISS data sets?”

    If you’re not arrested for acting bizarrely, report back.

  28. JasonW says:

    #26: Interesting. So which data sets would you trust? HADCRUT is out, as we aaaaall know from the “exposed Climategate FRAUD/HOAX ™”. NASA/GISS is out too now, apparently. Getting a bit thin here. I hear Anthony Watts has a bit of a business going selling weather measuring instruments – maybe we should set up a global network exclusively with his gear? T

    Tell me gallopingcamel, which ones would YOU trust?

  29. BBHY says:

    A temperature anomaly of 0.49°C for an entire hemisphere would seem to me to be quite extreme.

    I’m getting very concerned that even the best supporters of doing something about AGW ignore that outstanding datapoint and spend their time answering nonsense posts by deniers.

    Get this through your heads people! You will not convince the deniers! Stop wasting your time. Stop being distracted away from what needs to be done! You can give them facts, more facts, and even more facts, and they will not care in the slightest bit!

  30. Leif says:

    For those interested in big weather events, you might want to keep an eye out on the NW coast. It is too early for predictions but to my eye the current patterns have an ominous look to them.
    I am battening down my hatches. Good practice if nothing else.

  31. Dano says:

    Get this through your heads people! You will not convince the deniers! Stop wasting your time. Stop being distracted away from what needs to be done! You can give them facts, more facts, and even more facts, and they will not care in the slightest bit!

    Aaaaaa-men, bruddah.

    Ignore the willing ignorami.

    They are wasting your time on purpose, which is morally bankrupt. They will face reprisal and their fate one way or another. Fuggem.



  32. Dano says:

    It is too early for predictions but to my eye the current patterns have an ominous look to them.

    Yes, that is not a January pattern. The water managers are watching their reservoirs very closely right now, guaranteed.



  33. Leif says:

    From the Pacific NW:
    News BEFORE it news! Notice the “Atmospheric River” we are at the mouth of. Look at the relative location of Hawaii. We are talking a moist flow with a lot of warm water to cover yet. Almost from the equator! A very “defined weather system with lots of potential. On the other hand. Looks like a bug fluffy kitty cat walking off the picture. Your picture may very as the current form is time sensitive. 4 or 5 days to play out though.

  34. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Where is the NASA announcement that is supposed to happen today, as referenced in Joe’s original post? I’d like to have it before passing on the news to others.


  35. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Mark B, #33, I’m noticing the NOAA link you provided states that 2009 was the fifth warmest year of the thermometer record. Is the NASA claim of “second warmest” because of different techniques in measuring? Which should I use when speaking with friends and family about the issue?

  36. MarkB says:

    Chris (#36),

    “Top 5” is fine. So is “between 2nd and 5th”. The difference between the 2 data products is very slight, and results from slightly different processing techniques. The 2nd through 5th positions are all within a few hundredths of each other. Both data products have 2005 as the warmest.

    2010 will be the one to watch. Records are usually broken during the year after an el Nino starts.

    More meaningful than individual years, the NOAA report also indicates that the last decade (2000-2009) was by far the warmest decade on record, 0.18 C above the 1990’s.

    Spread the word. And if someone wants to verify the raw and processed data, code, and methods themselves, this is a good page:

  37. Dano says:

    Leif, the flow is starting to wave. No Pineapple Express yet. But not a good pattern for this time of year, surely. They tend to reinforce themselves and we should plan for one in March if this is any indication.



  38. Leif says:

    Dano: Like I said , we have 4 or 5 days for this to play out. Sunny and beautiful at the moment. But I live in a Rain Shadow. Surrounding very wet.

  39. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Mark B, (#37), thanks.

    Thanks for explaining that to me. I just couldn’t figure out why Joe’s interview above, Grist, and Lester Brown are all posting the word “Second” today when the only published news release I see (from NOAA) says “fifth”, no matter how close they are. Id hate to give fodder to the anti-science crowd. I want to see policy passed and I dont want to see it get tripped up by the other side berating this later.

  40. Leif says:

    carebonnog, #19 “What I would like to see happen is for Scripps to hold a press conference taking Coleman, Roberts, and the other local media wingnuts to task for misleading the public. Scripps should invite KUSI’s and KFMB’s competitors to the press conference.”

    Can’t the public DEMAND that announcers by forced to take a class in “understanding first principals” as a prerequisite for a license to be “on the air.” It is obvious that it is not in the public interest disseminate obvious lies over and over simply because you have control over a broadcast studio.

    The anti-Science crowd are salivating over that one, but I’m just fishing here.

  41. Dano says:

    Dano: Like I said , we have 4 or 5 days for this to play out. Sunny and beautiful at the moment. But I live in a Rain Shadow. Surrounding very wet.

    This old weatherman doesn’t see it. I don’t believe the model solutions. 500 mb pattern doesn’t look stable attm. Surely there will be disturbances coming thru but this is no Pineapple Express nor does it have a subtropical tap. I guess we’ll see, eh?



  42. Leif says:

    Dano: Went to Cliff Mass Weather Blog. He has interesting things to say especially if you live in the NW.
    Two last posts about very same event.

  43. Deech56 says:

    The table shows an annual anomaly of 0.57 – tied for second.

    [JR: As reported!]

  44. Leif says:

    Dano: The first “wind event,” (That is ~hurricane winds for you folks on the East Coast), is expected to hit southern Oregon coast Sunday late afternoon and evening. Lots more ‘weather” out in the North Pacific yet.
    My lady an I are planing three nights at Kalaloch come Tuesday. We are taking siege food. Weather window looks promising for going out. Return more problematical.

  45. Dano says:

    Yup, Cliff sez lots of energy but not indicating Pineapple Express. We’ll see if the model runs verify, but certainly lots of energy.

    I told friends in Wenatchee to forget Mission Ridge for some time. And I do like the denialists complaining how cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooold!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it is, when the world will be watching the Olympics in Cascadia during an El Niño year. Can you imagine how the willing ignorami, PR firms and misinformers are going to be tap-dancing around that?! Heh.



  46. Ansgar says:

    Why hasn’t Nasa Giss posted the official numbers on Friday ? (It is Saturday today).

    Why does it take two weeks for a computer to calculate an average if the heuristics are set before the 31st of December ?

    [JR: The official numbers have been posted, as I wrote yesterday.]

  47. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    JR & Ansgar

    The table may have been published, but we need an announcement written, and a colorful graph displayed, so that we can post on our own Facebook pages and personal blogs or whatever. Something should be written here:

    I can re-post JR’s article here, but its even better when it comes from the horse’s mouth.

    [JR: Like I said, it looks like NASA wants to make a broader comment on weather vs. climate rather than just reporting the annual data.]

  48. Leif says:

    Dano, #47: Canada has closed some of the mountain already to preserve what snow they have. I believe the “base” went from mid 40″s to mid 20″s in the last few weeks. (Known as “Cascade Cement.”) There will be extensive snow making at this rate for the Olympics. Well North of the northern tip of Maine and 7,000’+ elevation.

  49. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Ansgar (#48) it looks like this was a little unclear for both of us. The solution is to look at the more recent JR blog entry above.

    The typed words we are looking for are in the first paragraph of the PDF mentioned there. Additionally Hansen states, “We will prepare a write-up on 2009 temperatures for the GISS web site next week.”

    So for now, for lay people to use a pull-quote, it looks like the PDF is the answer.

  50. gingoro says:

    Serious Question: Is this a forecast or a climate prediction? The implication being that a forecast is a short term phenomena which says nothing about long term climate change. Baring events like a major volcano, meteor strike that would throw up lots of dust into the atmosphere will Climate Progress make a big issue if 2010 turns out not to be the warmest year since the 1800s? So far January seems to be incredibly warm. In Vancouver one of the two mountains that will be used for Olympic events has closed for sports (in the areas to be used) in an effort to preserve what little snow they have.

  51. Dano says:

    Lief (50):

    When I lived there near Crystal we’d call it ‘Cascade Concrete’, in CA we called it ‘Sierra Cement’, the alliteration matching better to the location.

    Nonetheless, our snow here isn’t the greatest either and we haven’t yet done a snowshoe weekend due to conditions.



  52. jonathan says:

    Science is under attack by oil producing manipulators, and non-thinking individuals ready to attack real data on temperatures rising in accordance to the last hundred years of unprecedented carbon air pollution and deforestation. Note this article: “One man’s look at the global warming horizon – How oil remains the culprit behind 9/11 and global warming, the latter being a reality not an elitist scam.”
    By Jerry Maxxa, posted at

    more resources at my site,
    Mounting Evidence of Extreme Global Warming