NASA: Easily the hottest spring ” and Jan-May ” in temperature record

Plus another record 12-month global temperature

NASA 5-10

Last month tied May 1998 as the hottest on record in the NASA dataset.  More significantly, following fast on the heels of easily the hottest April “” and hottest Jan-April “” on record, it’s also the hottest Jan-May on record [click on figure to enlarge].

Also, the combined land-surface air and sea-surface water temperature anomaly for March-April-May was 0.73°C above the 1951-1980 mean, blowing out the old record of 0.65°C set in 2002.

The record temperatures we’re seeing now are especially impressive because we’ve been in “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.” It’s just hard to stop the march of manmade global warming, well, other than by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, that is.

Most significantly, the 12-month global temperature grew to 0.66°C — easily the highest on record.

Software engineer (and former machinist mate in the US Navy) Timothy Chase put together a spreadsheet using the data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (click here).  In NASA’s dataset, the 12-month running average temperature record was actually just barely set in March “” and then easily set in April.

Of course, there never was any global cooling “” see Must-read AP story: Statisticians reject global cooling; Caldeira “” “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”

In fact, the new 12-month record far outpaced the pre-2010 record of 0.62°C that was set in … 2007

NASA’s recent draft paper reported:  “We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade” and “that there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s.”

For the record, it was the second hottest April in both satellite records (UAH and RSS), which are more sensitive to the El Ni±o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) than the land records and have biases of their own (as Hansen discusses here).

Although I’m sure it’s just another coincidence, but just as NOAA noted “North American snow cover for April 2010 was the smallest on record,” Rutgers University’s Global Snow Lab again reports a record low snow cover in the entire northern hemisphere for the month of May (what appears to be a long term trend):

And in one of those compounded coincidences that drive the anti-science crowd into a frenzy of conspiracy theories and pseudo-analysis, the extent of Arctic sea ice continues to drop below the record lows of recent years:

AMSR-E Sea Ice Extent

And, of course, the bottom continues to drop out of the most important measure of long-term Arctic sea ice survivability — volume (see Arctic death spiral: Naval Postgrad School’s Maslowski “projects ice-free* fall by 2016 (+/- 3 yrs)”).

Indeed, we appear to have been disintegrating volume records over the past several months according to the Polar Science Center (click to enlarge):

Note:  “Anomalies for each day are calculated relative to the average over the 1979 -2009 period for that day to remove the annual cycle.” The sharp drop at the end is not to a record low absolute level of ice volume, but to apparent record low for the month.

If only someone had a theory to explain all this coincidental warming and melting — and how to stop it before it really messed up our livable climate.


31 Responses to NASA: Easily the hottest spring ” and Jan-May ” in temperature record

  1. James Newberry says:

    About ten amplifying feedbacks should start to kick in during this decade (like Arctic white ice melting to dark sea water, and forest conflagrations), which will accelerate melting of about eight million cubic miles of land-based polar ice. Our civilizational history is seafaring, and ports. They will be lost.

    Meanwhile, we have actual Neanderthal DNA in Congress and it shows (with appologies to Neanderthal man). We seem to have established the modern dark age. Anyone have some sunlight or sunpower? One hour received by the Earth is only equal to all commercial energy used by humans for a year.

    Meanwhile, let’s destroy some more forests for unconventional gas, oil and coal. Have some poisons with your climate collapse. RE: how to subsidize our own death, the IEA says world fossil subsidies are one-half trillion dollars per year (not counting externalities which may be far more important).

  2. Chris Dudley says:

    Thanks for this writeup. These monthly reports are a big help.

    The 37th coal miner killed this year has a name: Phillip Wade Gustafson, 38, of Lynn, Alabama. His funeral is tomorrow (Friday) at 2 PM.

    With the year not even half over, this has been the worst percentage increase in coal mining deaths on record. It seems to match the weather.

  3. prokaryote says:

    ” We seem to have established the modern dark age. Anyone have some sunlight or sunpower?”

    We’re about to make a jump in evolution. Let’s hope that the technology update it is right in time.

    ” With the year not even half over, this has been the worst percentage increase in coal mining deaths on record.”

    Are there any global statistics on natural gas (methane) accidents?

  4. Gneiss says:

    Worth mentioning, for those who scoff at surface-station data, that the satellite-based UAH lower-troposhere temperature anomaly for May 2010 was the 2nd highest on record. It follows only the El Nino year 1998, which achieved a strikingly high anomaly in the UAH data — and that one-year spike, in turn, gave rise to all those “global cooling since 1998” stories. So, in any event, May 2010 looked warm from both surface and satellite views.

  5. prokaryote says:

    I’m missing in this post

    Atlantic May MDR SSTs warmest on record
    Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic’s Main Development Region for hurricanes had their warmest May on record, according to an analysis of historical SST data from the UK Hadley Center. SST data goes back to 1850, though there is much missing data before 1910 and during WWI and WWII. SSTs in the Main Development Region (10°N to 20°N and 20°W to 80°W) were a remarkable 1.51°C above average during May. This is the fourth straight record warm month, and the warmest anomaly measured for any month. The previous record warmest anomaly for the Atlantic MDR was 1.46°C, set last month. Third place goes to June 2005 and March 2010, with a 1.26°C anomaly. As I explained in detail in a post on record February SSTs in the Atlantic, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), are largely to blame for the record SSTs, though global warming and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) also play a role.

  6. Leif says:

    Hi Chris, I got this e-mail from the response team on our “Main Line Kill” solution.

    “Thank you so much for taking the time to think about and submit your proposed solution regarding the Horizon incident. Your submission has been reviewed for its technical merits. A similar approach has already been considered or planned for possible implementation. All of us on the Horizon Support Team appreciate your thoughts and efforts.

    Sincerely yours,
    Horizon Support Team”

    It was fun mental gymnastics working with you. Good show!

    Two Palms up,


  7. JR:

    Your headline will become commonplace this decade as we come out of the deepest solar minimum in 100 years. It is clear as day to most of us here now but I have to think that after this decade has passed, it will be very difficult for even the most skeptical person to doubt AGW.

    Will it be too late by then?

    Scott A. Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences
    Selden, NY
    My Global Warming Blog

  8. Dan R says:

    Just a reminder that there exists a great website for analyzing recent temperature data from RSS, NASA, Hadley and UAH, among other things.

    For example, if you’d like to see the recent 12 month NASA GISS record in context:

    Pick and choose your own. Cheers.

  9. Dan B says:

    Watching this data come in month by month is like watching an army march towards a city. You know something bad is nearly inevitable and want to scream at everyone involved – army & civilians to do something to stop.

    If current trends continue it’s likely we’ll hit the tripwire that turns warming from slow-motion and undetectable to most untrained observers into rapid and readily detectable warming and truly strange weather. Mass panic may be the first sign of the next phase – perhaps it already is: we’ve got a far-right movement that’s organized by the same folks that bring us climate change denialism.

    Machiavellian with big pinch of ‘Brave New World’ mind control.

  10. Chris Dudley says:

    Leif (#4),

    Good. Don’t think I’ve heard anything new here. It has been fun and we’ll keep thinking.

  11. Brewster says:

    So, May 2010 only tied with May 1998?

    I guess that means there’s been no warming in 12 years, right?

    (I wish I had a sarcasm smiley.)

    WUWT should be posting on this plateau shortly.

  12. BillD says:

    I often take a look at the daily temperature records at the HAMweather site. Lately there have been clusters of record highs in Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma and along the East Coast, including Washington DC. Perhaps people in these areas will start recognizing that the weather has been unusually hot for spring. Temperatures in the Southwest as high as 110 oF may be expected in the middle of summer, but are extreme for early June. I wonder whether some will argue that this year’s highs are just due to “adjustments” or “urban heat islands” and not something more ominous.

  13. Cyrus says:

    Scott Mandia wrote:
    Your headline will become commonplace this decade as we come out of the deepest solar minimum in 100 years. It is clear as day to most of us here now but I have to think that after this decade has passed, it will be very difficult for even the most skeptical person to doubt AGW.

    The ‘skeptics’ still won’t get it. It will just reinforce their claims that “It’s the Sun.” I’ve already seen it on other web forums. And ’round and ’round we go.

  14. robhon says:

    Scott Mandia,

    Will all due respect, I have to agree with Cyrus. I think the more stark the fact of AGW becomes then the more ardent and extreme the reaction will become. Look at people like Drs Lindzen, Spencer and Christie. You’d expect that by now, being that these are legitimate scientists in the field of climate, they would be coming around. ( I mean, Spencer is looking at the satellite data daily!) To the contrary, they, especially Lindzen and Spencer, seem to be going further off the deep end along with most of the political right wing of the US.

    There is a point where being more correct isn’t going to help. Since the right wing has so firmly hitched their wagon to AGW being wrong, then by AGW being scientifically correct ends up spelling disaster for their political party. If it becomes obvious to the general populous that AGW is real then the left wing of politics is going to control government. That terrifies the right wing and they will do anything to avoid it.

  15. SecularAnimist says:

    The latest idea that the Ditto-Head Denialists are all screeching about on blogs everywhere is that the “global warming hoax” is funded and directed by … BP.

    See, it’s some kind of plot to cripple the “good guy” American fossil fuel corporations (e.g. ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, Massey Energy) with restrictions on CO2 emissions, so that the evil socialists at BP can take over the world.

    Or something.

    Is there any line of BS so utterly stupid that Ditto-Heads won’t believe it?

  16. catman306 says:

    More extreme rainfall this time in Arkansas (7 inches overnight)

    Twelve dead in Arkansas as flash floods hit campsites

  17. Bob Wallace says:

    The weather in the US is not cooperating.

    Look at the temperature “colors” in 2010 vs. 2005 and 1998. The US, lower 48, has been normal or cooler than baseline while most of the rest of the globe has been quite hot. We aren’t feeling the heat on a personal level here.

    In fact, here in my part of the Pacific Northwest, we have experienced an unusually cold May/early June. We had 3″ of snow in late May, flurries are not unusual but accumulations are. I’ve been using the wood stove often at night when it’s usually shut down for the year by the end of April. And yesterday it was 8F higher in Barrow Alaska, right on the Beaufort Sea than it was here

    Right now it’s 48F in Deadhorse Alaska at latitude 70 and 44F here in Northern California at latitude 40. And I’m further inland than is Deadhorse.

    Until lower 48 people start personally experiencing unusual hot weather their attention is likely to be elsewhere.

  18. Esop says:

    Northern Europe is experiencing colder than normal temperatures as well, as the AO index is still negative. As a result, the denialiati is gaining massive public support. After all, if it is cold here, it must be so everywhere.
    The UAH results for May are interesting. Looking at the daily AMSU graph, one would expect the UAH dataset to place May 10 in the #1 spot, but it seems that Dr. Roy’s endless series of tweaks have prevented records from being set. Would likely hurt his book sales if they did.
    What needs to be pounded into the public is the fact that these record setting temperatures are being set at the time that the solar minimum is having its peak cooling effect. Drag Mr. Svensmark and the other deniers that predicted continuing cooling after 2008 out from the rocks they must be hiding under and let them answer to the public why their predictions from only two years back are failing to such a humiliating degree. At least the clever part of the public will wake up and start ignoring these people.
    The public must be made aware of the failures of the anti science lobby, problem is that the MSM seems less than willing to expose the denier clowns for what they are. One of a few notable exceptions is the Guardian, they reprinted Dr. Abraham’s brilliant rebuttal of Chris Moncktons quackery.

  19. Peter Mizla says:

    Strange weather is here now.

    In Connecticut this past week we have had 4 tornado warnings- although funnel clouds where observed- fortunately nothing touched down. Forecasters where perplexed by the ‘odd’ events in the atmosphere that caused this.

    Weather event in Arkansas today- 8-10″ Of rain- described as ‘freaky’ flash floods- Do not forget the massive flooding in Nashville recently.

    Here in New England- very warm spring after a mild winter. We had record rains in March- 16″ for the month in Connecticut- massive flooding.

    In my garden I have had a windmill palm growing in the ground (Trachycarpus fortunei) for 4 winters–with minimal protection- thriving. Not possible here in 1970.

    Zone creep here for gardeners —we used to be a a zone 5/6 now a zone 6/7– this past winter a zone 7… The zone 7 line is creeping north from the Connecticut shoreline at the rate of 1.5-2 miles a year. I should be a zone 7 solidly by 2020-2025.

    The signs are all around us of change- by the end of the decade the skeptics will be hiding and largely discredited. By then though there will probably no peak in C02 emissions till 2030- meaning a rise to 3 degrees Celsius is inevitable the latter part of the century.

  20. catman306 (#16) and Peter Mizla (#20): In re the Arkansas rain event: in a comment to another CP post recently, Leif said that ocean temperatures measured in the first 2,000 feet below the surface have warmed by 1 degree C. That, he said, has increased evaporation by 4%, and THAT is the equivalent of 1.5 times the volume of Lake Superior. That’s interesting, if scary, and so I ran the numbers a bit further. 1.5 x Lake Superior’s volume is about 4,500 cubic miles of water. If half of Tennessee received an average of 15 inches of rain in the rain event there … that would amount to roughly 1.25 cubic miles of water–which means that there is plenty left up there in the atmosphere to deposit in other locations. (Sorry all, meant to post this as a followup in the same thread, but comments were closed by the time I got there. Hope I have remembered his comment correctly. It made a definite impression.)

  21. Leif says:

    Tom Gray, @ 21: The thing is that just because you get 1.25 cubic miles out of the atmosphere continued evaporation quickly replenishes to the new equilibrium. This is the new normal you are looking at. By 2050 we very well may double that with the warming that is already in the pipeline.

    You did well remembering the facts but I would point out that some of these numbers are not peer reviewed and need conformation. On the other hand understanding the concept is more important than accuracy of computation.

  22. prokaryote says:

    Btw this Ark. Flood event media attention is in stark contrast to nashlantis.

  23. Leif, @22: Thanks, I am just glad I didn’t screw it up. I will include the caveat about peer review should I repeat in future. I use reasonably accurate back-of-the-envelope calculations quite a bit myself in describing wind energy statistics.

  24. Leif says:

    Tom Gray, #24. All the information is on the web, not hard to access, and the math is basic but big numbers. Lots of room to drop a decimal or two. I am happy that you found it informative. If the rain fell evenly across the earth surface the extra participation would be almost negligible but that is not how weather works.

  25. ToddInNorway says:

    Global anthropogenic CO2 emissions fell slightly in 2009. Yet atmospheric CO2 concentrations appear to be rising now in 2010 at about 3 ppm/year compared to the relatively stabile rate of about 2 ppm/year in the period 2000-2008. If we can measure accelerating rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations while we are reducing or stabilizing global anthropogenic GHG emissions, what does that tell us?

  26. BBHY says:

    “while we are reducing or stabilizing global anthropogenic GHG emissions”

    I don’t think there is any serious efforts being made. Not yet anyway. Lots of talk, a few minor efforts, but nothing major.

  27. Daniel Romm says:

    Why is the data about solar minimum important?

  28. Esop says:

    Daniel @28:
    “Skeptics” have been claiming that the solar cycle is the main driver of global temperature. When the temperatures took a dip in 2008 due to the La Nina, the denialists were quick to predict continued global cooling, due to the quiet sun. Interestingly, once the cooling effect from the La Nina came to an end in early 2009, the temperatures went straight up, to record breaking levels. This despite the solar minimum. This tells us that the solar cycle now has very little influence on global temperatures, the small cooling effect from a record solar minimum is not nearly enough to offset the warming from greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. The spectacular failure of the solar theory of Svensmark and others is a major blow against the deniers. Their 2008 predictions of continuing cooling failed within months, clearly demonstrating their inability to model the future climate. Their failed predictions of cooling should be interesting stuff for the MSM, but the media is unfortunately more interested in blowing minor mistakes in the huge IPCC report way out of proportion, rather than exposing the failures of denialist “science”.

  29. So today, flash flooding in Oklahoma City, where 6 to 10 inches of rain fell over the course of several hours in the morning. Not conclusive of anything, of course, but certainly interesting.

  30. VinnieinLA says:

    Here is the west coast take:
    The trees in the San Gabriels are dying from the top down.
    The snow pack in the sierra is still 200% less for the decade (2000-10).
    The animals are fleeing the higher elevations for lack of natural spring water and coming down to feed on shitzu’s and poodles in the foothill areas.
    Cougars, coyotes and bears do not fear the suburbs.

    Wake up! The fan is ready to be hit by the “&%it”.
    Start the revolution already, those in power are laughing at you all!!!