NOAA: Warmest January in both satellite records

Warming is +0.18°C (.32°F) decade

Satellite 1-10

Last week, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its monthly “State of the Climate Global Analysis” for January.

We see blowout warming in the satellite temperature record, which is so beloved of the anti-science crowd since they think — incorrectly — it doesn’t show warming.  Note that in UAH, we crushed the previous record.

In NOAA’s own surface dataset, January is slightly less record-shattering:

The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for January 2010 was 0.60°C (1.08°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F). This is the fourth warmest January on record.

As seems to be a pattern now, the record warmth seems to elude much of the East Coast, where most of the lawmakers and major media bloviate:

Temperature Anomalies January 2010

Hmm, could that be because New study finds the poor weather stations tend to have a slight COOL bias, not a warm one?


36 Responses to NOAA: Warmest January in both satellite records

  1. Mark S says:

    Looking at the UAH real time data it is obvious that Feb will be the warmest Feb on record. Like Jan, it will destroy the previous record.

  2. Dana says:

    Just a minor detail – the trend in January data is 0.18°C per decade. However, the trend in annual data is around 0.13°C (UAH) and 0.15°C (RSS) per decade, last I checked.

    As for NOAA, the southern hemisphere oceans and land temps were 1st and 2nd hottest, and norther hemisphere ocean temps were 2nd hottest. The only reason it wasn’t a hotter month was that northern hemisphere land temps were 18th-hottest. So if anyone claims the data is inconsistent with their local weather, they’re wrong.

    [JR: Yes. That’ll no doubt change if this is the hottest year on record.]

  3. MapleLeaf says:

    The Japan Met. Agency has ranked January the third warmest on record behind 2007 and 2002. 1998 was the fourth warmest.

    NASA GISS is still not out, hopefully later today or tomorrow.

    The cooler weather in the US east and southeast of late is striking, but a quick perusal of the global satellite temp and SAT maps should silence Inhofe. Someone should email him some maps and stats., and show him that there is a world outside of the USA. Does he know the USA cover less than 2% of the planet’s surface area? Maybe it can be be in the form of an open letter to the press in a prominent Washington DC paper?

    A nice big press release Joe, that should leave quick a bit of egg on the Senator’s face, and deservedly so.

  4. WAG says:

    It’s telling that deniers are trumpeting the snow on the East Coast while ignoring the equal and opposite headline of “no snow at Winter Olympics.” The fact that both extreme weather events are happening simultaneously is revealing of the extent to which deniers completely ignore everything outside their own backyard. Not to mention that most places on earth that are NOT the East Coast are still undergoing warming. I’ve created a graphic I think captures this (stealing a photo I got off this blog):

  5. Paul K2 says:

    MarkS: I have been following the UAH monthlies with interest for the last several months. I wouldn’t bet that Feb 2010 will break the record for Febraury. Feb 1998 was 0.76, and right now it looks like this February will likely fall a bit short of the peak of the large El Nino cycle in 1998. My guess is that Feb 2010 will come in at around 0.65 to 0.72.

    But this still means that Feb 2010 will become the 2nd hottest ever for February, handily beat the existing runnerups:

    Feb 1998 at 0.76
    Feb 2010 at 0.65 to 0.72 (estimated and projected to end of month)

    Feb 07 at 0.46
    Feb 06 at 0.45
    Feb 04 at 0.43
    Feb 05 at 0.41
    Feb 03 at 0.40

    Here is some numbers I posted last month, where I underestimated the Jan 2010 anomaly:

    I am interested in the projection that the January ‘10 UAH anomaly will exceed 0.70. I checked the UAH data, and this would be the highest Jan anomaly in the data, beating 0.59 in Jan 07 and 0.58 in Jan 98.

    In addition, the UAH anomaly hit 0.50 last November, the highest Nov anomaly in the records. The runner-up was Nov ‘05 with 0.40 and only two other Nov anomalies exceeded 0.30.

    And the September UAH anomaly hit 0.42, the second highest for that month. The record was Sep ‘98 with 0.43, and only other September reading to exceed 0.30 was Sep ‘05 with 0.35.

    And the July UAH anomaly was also 0.42, the second highest in the record. The record was Jul ‘98 with 0.52, with the third place going to Jul ‘05 with 0.33. Only one other July exceeded 0.30.

    Notice that all the other years were El Nino peak years following the January El Nino, and 2010 will be the El Nino peak year, following this January El Nino peak. The UAH satellite data seem more sensitive to the ENSO cycle than other temperature records, and this could mean 2010 will be a barnburner year.

    If Feb 2010 continues hot, and takes 2nd place, we will have 5 of the last 8 months either First or Second as the hottest in the UAH troposphere temperature record.

    What will come next? March could still be high for UAH, but then expect a seasonal drop in May; for some unknown reason that only Spencer or Christy know, the UAH anomaly has a seasonal cycle that bottoms in May, then rebounds in June and July, then peaks again in January and February.

    I am interested in the 12 month running average, and if we don’t see a big seasonal drop in May, the 12-month UAH average could hit an all-time hottest “year” with the June report. Right now, my guess is Second hottest “year”, because the UAH troposphere temperature is clearly strongly dependent on El NIno, and 1998 had a very large El Nino.

    In short, the UAH troposphere temperature trend is clearly up, and if 1998 hadn’t been influenced so strongly by the big El Nino, this “year” would be the hottest in the dataset.

  6. MapleLeaf says:


    Good assessment. Unless things turn around the second half of the month, it looks like Feb 2010 will be the second warmest on record. As you say though, the long term trend is most definitely up, for both the UAH and RSS data, the RATPAC (global radiosonde) data too.

    1998 is no longer the warmest year on record, alas the denialati keep ignoring that fact. That and the fact that 1998 is now being challenged and exceeded in years with weak or moderate El Ninos. Even the strong La Nina of 2007-2008 was warmer than the two super El Ninos observed in the 80s.

    Swanson et al. (2009, PNAS) state that:

    “Here we present a technique that objectively identifies the component of inter-decadal global mean surface temperature attributable to natural long-term climate variability. Removal of that hidden variability from the actual observed global mean surface temperature record delineates the externally forced climate signal, which is monotonic, accelerating warming during the 20th century.” See their Fig. 3.

  7. Esop says:

    I think part of the reason for the vast increase of denialist activity and attacks over the past few months is the very fact that the global temperature is going up while the denialist forecast was global cooling for a long period. It is surprising that so many of them jumped on the cooling train, as they would serve their case just as well by simply claiming the continuing warming to be natural. Forecasting cooling meant a risk of being proven wrong, thus a risk of losing valuable credibility, so that leads me to believe that some actually were honest in their assumptions.
    2010 is very likely to break the record in all the datasets, so it is important that the media is made aware of the global cooling forecast made by the anti-science bunch. When the 2010 statistics are in, and that 98 record likely beaten, exposure of the failed cooling prediction will help the layman (and hopefully media) understand the risk of listening to the sceptics when it comes to longer term climate predictions. A quick google search will reveal some interesting claims of imminent cooling by prominent sceptics, so even a journalist should be able to dig up some good stuff. If the deniers will deny their cooling claims or somehow try to spin their way out of it, that is another question.

  8. John says:

    Meh, this doesn’t prove man “made” warming. Where in all the ‘science’ have we studies on solar radiation (it’s never constant), cosmic radiation (never constant), orbital tilt, wobble, and actual distance from the sun year to year (never constant)? Given just these factors, climate could not possibly be ‘constant’ from year to year, regardless what the oceans are doing and what’s in the atmosphere.

    Indeed, if you POSIT a constant Solar energic output, constant cosmic radiation output, constant planetary orbit/tilt and magnetic field…. then Oceanic and air temps going up or down have be explained by the least likely causes: man-made pollution. But how “scientific” is it to dismiss the major factors at play and focus on the least?

    We know there have been 3 ice ages in the last million years. So obviously the planet has cooled and warmed repeatedly in the recent geological past. No evil Capitialist republican cave-men to blame. No population bomb to blame. And yet the planet got cold and then warm all on its lonesome. A scientist would be curious as to why.

    Now we may be experiencing another warming trend…. but with little concern for the truly cosmic factors in the system, how can any partisan claim “science” as a mantle of authority?

    Instead people glom onto ‘studies’ of the smallest factors in the complex system such as pin point surface temps (terrestrial stations mostly located near urban heat sinks)or satellite images which while impressive, don’t point to causation.

    To go from “the planet is heating” to “man must be at fault” is not science. It’s philosophy. And disagreeing with the “therefore it’s man’s fault” is not anti-science, it’s anti-that philosophy.

    The Earth’s geologic and bioshere systems are incredibly complex, as is the interplay between the Magnetosphere, Sun and Cosmic radiation. These factors are far and away much larger energic factors and CAUSES of climate changes (which are NATURAL) than daily or annual mean water and air temps, which are the effects of these inputs. Everything humanity does merely AFFECTS the EFFECTS. To deny this is to broadcast one’s faith, not in science, but in “will to power” and “the man with the gun makes the rules” ideology.

  9. Paul K2 says:

    Oh, by the way. The fact that the 12 month running average UAH could set a near record in the next few months, is why Spencer got a lot of flack for suddenly switching from a 13 month average for a smoothed curve in his UAH anomaly releases, to a 25 month average. Some believe Spencer saw the El Nino, estimated the 13 month average curve was going to be showing some very high data, and so switched in December to the 25 month moving average. Some critics claimed Spencer was trying to “hide the incline”.

    I actually kind of liked the 25 month average, because it nullifies some ENSO impacts, but 36 or 48 months seems to make more sense because the longer averaging period would eliminate most ENSO impact; But Spencer may have been trying to capture the 2008 La Nina low anomalies, and didn’t want to go back 36 or 48 months because he would pick up the 2007 El Nino impacted higher anomalies. The 25 month average seems to have been carefully chosen to try and continue reporting lower average anomalies for awhile (during policy debate?), that he could feature in his press releases. (I hope this isn’t true.)

    From a cursory view of the monthly data, the 48 month running average of UAH anomaly hit an all-time high in 2007, and this year should set a new record high, with the hot 2007 (El Nino) canceling out cool 2008 (La Nina), and with 2009 and 2010 at near record highs. The 1998 to 2001 period didn’t have a 48 month moving average even close to the record for the moving average in 2007, or the record we will almost certainly see this year.

  10. Brewster says:


    Nice use of the caps lock key…

  11. prokaryote says:

    John the accelerate of the anual warmth factor proves the underlying man-made trend.
    Once the solar cyle kicks in again, we will witness much bigger grow in anual warmth factor – hence further accelerating the big thaw. Hence further riscing runaway scenarios. Hence further stressing the ecosystems. Hence further stress in providing food/water.

    If you ignore the science you fool yourself and our children.

  12. Michael Heath says:

    John @ 8 – it’s vividly clear reading your post you’ve never even bothered to study up on both the related physics and what climate scientists have empirically discovered. I suggest doing that prior to criticizing that which you are woefully uninformed about.

  13. John Hollenberg says:

    > Indeed, if you POSIT a constant Solar energic output, constant cosmic radiation output, constant planetary orbit/tilt and magnetic field…. then Oceanic and air temps going up or down have be explained by the least likely causes: man-made pollution.

    Congratulations… you’ve just come up with an explanation that has eluded thousands of hard-working scientists, specially trained in this field. Why didn’t they consider this obvious line of reasoning? Oh, they did… but apparently the hypothesis didn’t fit with 100 years of well-established science.

  14. John says:

    Well, if you are one of these “hard working scientists” then please let your argument rip showing me how oceans acquire heat from atmopheric pollution and not the sun, magnetospheric reactions with the solar wind and cosmic radiation inputs….or geologic factors such as submarine vents and volcanoes.

    I wait with awed anticipation as you show me that the Sun isn’t as big a factor in Oceanic temps as human caused pollution.

    Of course, being great ‘scientists’ you will run the numbers and notice that the solar wind has never been constant. And you’d start to notice that since the Oceans cover most of the planet they get most of the heat from the sun…. so suppose the sun’s output goes up…what happens to the Oceans? Nothing?

    No, much better to focus on currents and themoclines that result from solar and geologic inputs while ignoring these basic inputs. That way we can get thousands of “hard working scientists” employed analysing the effects….while confusing factors that affect them with the true causes of these currents and themocline flux.

    Naturally, since science is unbiased, and scientists are naturally curious, you’ll focus on the issue not shooting the messenger or his USE OF CAPS. Because obviously, science is about discoving the truth not scoring political points, right? Right?

    [JR: Try reading the literature. A change in the forcing by the sun simply isn’t a big player in driving recent warming. As a major 2009 study found (see Another long-debunked denier talking point is debunked again: Changes in the Sun are not causing global warming):

    According to this analysis, solar forcing contributed negligible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100 years.

    And a major 2007 study concluded:

    Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures.

    Related scientific studies on the subject can be found on the excellent debunking website, Skeptical Science. Here’s but a few:

    • Erlykin 2009: “We deduce that the maximum recent increase in the mean surface temperature of the Earth which can be ascribed to solar activity is 14% of the observed global warming”
    • Benestad 2009: “Our analysis shows that the most likely contribution from solar forcing a global warming is 7 ± 1% for the 20th century and is negligible for warming since 1980.”
    • Lockwood 2008: “It is shown that the contribution of solar variability to the temperature trend since 1987 is small and downward; the best estimate is −1.3% and the 2σ confidence level sets the uncertainty range of −0.7 to −1.9%.”
    • Lockwood 2008: “The conclusions of our previous paper, that solar forcing has declined over the past 20 years while surface air temperatures have continued to rise, are shown to apply for the full range of potential time constants for the climate response to the variations in the solar forcings.”
    • Ammann 2007: “Although solar and volcanic effects appear to dominate most of the slow climate variations within the past thousand years, the impacts of greenhouse gases have dominated since the second half of the last century.”
    • Lockwood 2007: “The observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen after 1985 cannot be ascribed to solar variability, whichever of the mechanism is invoked and no matter how much the solar variation is amplified.”
    • Foukal 2006 concludes “The variations measured from spacecraft since 1978 are too small to have contributed appreciably to accelerated global warming over the past 30 years.”

    By one recent estimate, human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for “80 to 120% of the warming” in recent decades (see “What percentage of global warming is due to human causes vs. natural causes?“)

    Human-caused emissions are simply driving climate change to dangerous levels with forcings that dwarf previous natural forcings both in speed and scale (see “Humans boosting CO2 14,000 times faster than nature, overwhelming slow negative feedbacks“).

    And that’s why the time to act is now, so every decade this century isn’t the hottest decade on record, with unimaginably catastrophic consequences for the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren.]

  15. Doug Bostrom says:

    John, before you go on, you should take a few hours to read this:

    It’ll take you right from the fundamentals up to the present. Even if you’re looking for logical gaps in the case for AGW, Weart is an excellent place to begin, yet quite free of hyperbole and the like.

  16. John says:

    Oh and ‘scientists’ didn’t even know the Magnetosphere existed 100 years ago. It was discovered in the 1950s. So the lack of a unified theory hardly proves the current theory (that man, and man alone tips the balance) correct.

  17. MapleLeaf says:

    John @8 and 16, do you know what the Dunning-Kruger effect is?

  18. John, the reason people here were mocking you for your use of caps is because mocking you for the monumental ignorance of your posts was simply too obvious.

    As anyone possessed of nothing more exotic than the abstract possibility of either intelligence or integrity already learned some time ago, scientists have been tracking solar output and cosmic radiation for some time, and with considerable accuracy over that time; quite enough to determine beyond any reasonable doubt that neither explanation can account for the contemporary warming that we are seeing.

    I am still on the “gray” list here, so I cannot post URL’s directly. But you can find an abundance of technical details at places like realclimate-dot-org or skepticalscience-dot-com. You could look up Weart’s book The Discovery of Global Warming — A History, which is freely available online, for no more effort than it takes to plug the title into a search engine. Chapter 9 of the IPCC AR4 report is also freely available as a downloadable .PDF, and I thought it quite straight-forwardly readable. The FAQ sheet from Environment Canada on Detecting and Attibuting Climate Change is also quite good.

    The above list is the most superficial gloss of the great volumes of materials that are readily available to anyone possessed of even the littlest, little scintilla of integrity such that they would actually trouble to learn the basic facts of the matter prior to ranting about subjects of which they are completely ignorant in public. I am, on that account, therefore absolutely confident that you will continue in your chosen methodology of ignoring that information altogether.

  19. Richard Brenne says:

    John (#8 and #16), as MapleLeaf kindly suggests, these two posts are textbook examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect, brought up yesterday by Physicist John Cook at his Skeptical Science climate change blog.

    Funny about physicists like John and our host here Joe, they work their entire lives to grasp reality, instead of the straws you’re grasping at. Here is the link:

    Here is John Cook’s first paragraph:

    “One of the best titles for a scientific paper has to be the Nobel prize winning “Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments”. The paper compares people’s skill levels to their own assessment of their abilities. In hindsight, the result seems self-evident. Unskilled people lack the skill to rate their own level of competence. This leads to the unfortunate result that unskilled people rate themselves higher than more competent people. The phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after the paper’s authors, and is often seen in the climate debate. There are many with a cursory understanding who believe they’re discovered fundamental flaws in climate science that have somehow been overlooked or ignored by climate scientists. Some take this a step further and believe they’re being deceived.”

    I suggest whenever we run into comments like John’s an appropriate and succinct response might be, “D-K, Dude.”

  20. Richard Brenne says:

    For ten seasons I coached kids ages 6 to 8 in ski racing. Most skied many dozens of times a season often since they were two, and so they were excellent skiers. This has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to mention it.

    Oh wait! The Dunning-Kruger Effect. . .

    At the beginning of their first season of ski racing, because they often hadn’t skied with other kids their age who were as experienced as they were, they assumed and many times their parents assumed that they were the best skier their age in our club, in Colorado, or in the world.

    All it took for them to be convinced otherwise was to be grouped with these other kids and go skiing, and then to finish well back in their first ski races. Because of this empirical evidence they went from sometimes insufferable arrogance to consistent humility quite quickly.

    Similar processes for adults include going to a rigorous university as an undergraduate, going to graduate school at a major research university, obtaining a PhD, especially in a science, publishing in a scientific or academic journal and thus undergoing peer review, and if in an appropriate field, being nominated for and then volunteering as an IPCC Report Lead Author or Group Leader.

    When one has experienced few or none of these things, it is easy for them to suffer the Dunning-Kruger affect in relation to climate change.

    If the formalized educational and scientific processes (comparable to becoming a Major League baseball player compared to an obese beer-league softball player) isn’t possible, then reading 100 published, peer-reviewed papers on climate science might be ideal, but reading at least 100 posts (and the comment threads) here, at RealClimate and Skeptical Science would be a good place to start – and the impressively wise and humble do that before commenting too strongly.

    Because really, thinking you know more than all the world’s scientists who have dedicated their lives to the specific and generalized knowledge demonstrates a combination of arrogance and ignorance that is breathtakingly Bush and Palinesque.

    People like to bring up Galileo or other individual scientists as if they’re somehow in their class (trust me, they’re not) but Galileo was, as many D-K Dudes like to express in all-caps, DOING THE SCIENCE.

  21. fj2 says:

    (Not completely sure if this is off-topic concerning the Dunning-Kruger effect; and, hope no deniers are watching.)

    As co-conspirator with physicist Francis Crick in one of the great biological and technological breakthroughs of our time, James Watson expressed a somewhat blunt perspective describing typical can-do mode:

    “Of course there were scientists who thought the evidence favoring DNA was inconclusive and preferred to believe that genes were protein molecules. Francis, however, did not worry about these skeptics. Many were cantankerous fools who unfailingly backed the wrong horses. One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid.”

    — James D. Watson, The Double Helix, A Personal Account of the Discovery of THE STRUCTURE OF DNA, 1968, page 14.

  22. cougar_w says:

    The really cool thing about the D-K effect is that anyone suffering from it can argue forcefully that Dunning was a nitwit and Kruger was a fake and a dog knows more about bias psychology than than those guys, and yet never have looked it up.

    Natural idiots are too stupid to know how stupid they are.

  23. Richard Brenne says:

    cougar w (#23): Funny and true! The tiniest of nits: Instead of natural I think idiots are made – or in the case of billionaires Trump, Gates and Buffett, self-made.

    And do you have a link to the dog you describe?

  24. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Could you give a link for RSS?

  25. Michael T. says:

    Pete Dunkelberg (#25)

    Here is the link:

    Click on “Anomaly”. You can also look at the data for the previous years.

  26. 24. Richard Brenne

    And do you have a link to the dog you describe?

  27. Michael T. says:

    I know this is off topic, but I thought I should say that not only was the 2000s the warmest decade on record globally, it was also the warmest in the United States. Many people say that “1934 was the warmest year, therefore the ’30s was the warmest”. My calculations show that the ’30s is 3rd warmest decade with the ’90s as 2nd warmest. 1998 and 2006 are the two warmest years, with 1934 coming in 3rd.

    I used the NOAA/GISS data:

    U.S. Decadel Mean Temperature Anomaly (C) (Relative to 1951-1980)
    1880s -.30
    1890s -.23
    1900s -.07
    1910s -.20
    1920s +.02
    1930s +.43
    1940s +.14
    1950s +.18
    1960s -.11
    1970s -.12
    1980s +.21
    1990s +.50
    2000s +.70

  28. You might say that one picture is worth a million words in this case, as regions of cold temps are outweighed by those experiencing higher temps.

  29. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Re: warmest January. I just spent about 45 minutes looking at all the recent climate change newspaper stories found in a Google search. Very depressing. Lots of stories claiming various errors in the IPCC report. Lots of other denialist garbage. A tiny handful of stories stating AGW was real. Found zero newspaper stories about the warmest January data.

    Big sigh.

  30. John,

    I have a Web page at my site that can clear up a few of your misconceptions. It is called Climate Change: Natural Causes. On this illustrated page I discuss plate tectonics, milankovic cycles, PDO, solar irradiance (sun spots), El Niños, and volcanoes as drviers of climate change.

    Take special note of Figure 4.8a (Cook, 2010) that shows 2009 as the 2nd warmest year in the past 130 years while the sun’s “strength” was essentially the weakest in 130 years.

    We all make mistakes but the wise person accepts sources of correct information and then educates him/herself. You have been provided these sources by several folks here.

  31. PSU Grad says:

    cougar w (#23): “Natural idiots are too stupid to know how stupid they are.”

    Yeah, but some of us have wives who are more than happy to remind us.

  32. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Michael T. (26) Thanks for that link. But I had already been there. My eyes aren’t sharp enough to translate that picture into the data at the top of this post. Does anyone know a source for that information?

  33. Esop says:

    Bill (#30):
    I have noticed the same, with one exception: a short article in the online edition of a Norwegian newspaper. It was also cleverly pointed out that the data came from the climate skeptic Spencer. The journalist is very well informed on the subject, so there are still a few decent writers out there.
    Not surprisingly, the comment section was rapidly filled with accusations of alarmism.
    Seems weird that the warmest January in the (sceptic managed) satellite temp record would not be interesting to report on in the middle of such an onslaught of accusations of scientific fraud and fabricated warming. Not a balanced debate at all. I’m looking forward to seeing the first article in the mainstream media discuss the record breaking temps and how it contradicts the cooling forecast proposed in 08/09 by the not-so-scientific crowd.

  34. Bill Waterhouse says:

    There’s an excellent post and comments over at RealClimate on the poor state of newspaper coverage worldwide:

  35. Richard Brenne says:

    “PSU Grad (#32) says:

    cougar w (#23): “Natural idiots are too stupid to know how stupid they are.”

    Yeah, but some of us have wives who are more than happy to remind us.”

    PSU Grad – My wife’s starting a scientific journal to address her husband’s stupidity.

    And it just occured to me that one way to avoid peer-review is to live to be 150.