NASA reports hottest January to September on record

Hottest September in UAH satellite record, Spencer puzzled by “stubborn” temperatures

Last month, NASA reported it was the hottest January-August on record.  That followed a terrific analysis, “July 2010 “” What Global Warming Looks Like,” which noted that 2010 is “likely” to be warmest year on record.

This month continues the trend of 2010 outpacing previous years, according to NASA:

It seems all but certain we will outpace 1998, which currently ties for fourth hottest year in the NASA dataset (though it is technically described by NASA folks as tied for the second hottest year with 2005 and 2007).

Outpacing 2005, the hottest year on record, will be closer.  In NASA’s surface-based dataset, we are unlikely to set the record monthly temperatures for the rest of this year; last month wasn’t close to the hottest September for NASA.  We  have entered a moderate to strong La Ni±a, which NOAA says is “expected to last at least through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2010-11.”

NASA’s surface-based temperature record appears to be the most accurate, as I’ve noted many times (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”).

Interestingly, while the disinformers have been breathlessly touting the La Ni±a as sure to cool things down rapidly, global temperatures have held up, even in the satellite datasets, which are typically sensitive to the El Ni±o Southern oscillation (ENSO).  The more trustworthy RSS data found that it was the hottest September in satellite record.

Remarkably, even Roy Spencer’s much rejiggered UAH data for the lower troposphere shows September 2010 as the hottest on record — a full 0.15 C higher than September 1998.  The UAH anomaly actually jumped from its August level (+0.51 C), baffling Spencer, who wrote:

Despite cooling in the tropics, the global average lower tropospheric temperature anomaly has stubbornly refused to follow suit: +0.60 deg. C for September, 2010.

Ironically, Spencer anthropomorphises average global temperature — calling it “stubborn” — while refusing to accept the reality of dangerous anthropogenic global warming.  The only thing more stubborn than scientific reality is Spencer’s refusal to accept it (see The Great Global Warming Blunder: Roy Spencer asserts, “I predict that the proposed cure for global warming – reducing greenhouse gas emissions – will someday seem as outdated as using leeches to cure human illnesses”).

Spencer then quickly posted an article on falling sea surface temperatures, but his graph of UAH temperatures shows unmistakable decadal warming:


Before this month, I thought 2010 might not be the hottest year in the satellite record, but now it seems like there is a good chance it will — if global temps remain as stubborn as they’ve been (and unrejiggered).  Spencer writes:

For those following the race for warmest year in the satellite tropospheric temperature record (which began in 1979), 2010 is slowly approaching the record warm year of 1998. Here are the 1998 and 2010 averages for Julian Days 1 through 273:

1998   +0.590
2010   +0.553

The UAH anomalies for the last three months of 1998 were:

1998  10   0.416
1998  11    0.192
1998  12   0.277

So that leaves a lot of room for global temperatures to drop in October through December and still have 2010 beat 1998.

Finally, it bears repeating that the record warmth we are seeing this year is all the more powerful evidence of human-caused warming “because it occurs when the recent minimum of solar irradiance is having its maximum cooling effect,” as a recent must-read NASA paper noted:

It is just hard to stop the march of human caused global warming “” other than by sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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43 Responses to NASA reports hottest January to September on record

  1. knoxkp says:

    When will climate science deniers stop beating their kids and grandchildren?

  2. Michael T says:

    Taking the Measure of the Greenhouse Effect

    By Gavin Schmidt — October 2010

    “Most of us have heard that the greenhouse effect keeps the planet much warmer than it would be otherwise, and similarly we may have heard that increasing amounts of greenhouse gases are enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. But few of us appreciate what exactly it is in the atmosphere that makes the effect work and why small changes in trace gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) might make a difference.”

  3. By now it is completely clear how wrong Spencer c.s. are, but a phrase like ‘global temperatures have held up quite well’ seems to be more in place in a sports section, than in a blog concerned with climate change.

    [JR: That was a poorly worded phrase, which I fixed. But this is big news. Why must science writing be dry? The sports page is where a large fraction of readers turn to first!]

  4. BillD says:

    I don’t know about the rest of the world, but temperatures in the mid-80s in the upper Midwest last week seemed unusual. I’m hoping to keep getting greens and other cooler weather garden crops until Thanksgiving.

    It would be interesting to see a graph of the cummulative monthly anomaly that might be used to better see how this year is stacking up to 2005, 1998 etc in analysis of the warmest year.

  5. Peter M says:

    I wonder what 2012 will bring us in the way of heat?

    [JR: Hansen says likely hottest on record.]

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    Welcome to Pelican, Alaska. Located on the northwest portion of Chichagof Island, approximately 100 miles west of Juneau and 90 miles north of Sitka, …

    Pelican set a new daily rainfall record yesterday …… 4.46 in. beating the old one of 3.58 in

    I know it’s supposed to start raining in Pelican, and the greater Pacific Northwest. But given the amounts of rain we’ve been seeing this year. I’m afraid these folks are about to get clobbered in the next few months.

  7. Scrooge says:

    I think a few top scientists think the argument over GW might be over after 2012 and I personally thought 2011 would let us catch our breath, but now I’m second guessing that.

  8. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I read Spencer’s comments earlier this week on his site. I couldn’t help but laugh. “Spence, baby, those stubborn temps are called ‘global warming.’ Perhaps you’ve heard about it.”

    I’m going to put my neck out here and make a prediction. I think Spencer and Christy (even Watts) are not in the pockets of big oil. I think they are just very right wing. In the next two years (or 3) it’s going to become painfully obvious to them that this is real. They may not turn into democratic voters in 2012 but I bet they start singing a different tune about warming.

    Pat Michaels, though, he’s in the pockets of big oil. Deep in! People like him and Monckton will go down with the anti-science climate denier ship.

    Steven Goddard will fade from view and we’ll find him living as a hermit in the woods 20 years from now. Everyone will say, “Oh yeah! I forgot about that guy!”

    I already have several running bets with deniers that the decade from 2010 to 2019 will see at least 7 record high temperature years.

  9. mad martel/currie says:

    From an ethical standpoint, investments now that lead to increasing low carbon 3rd world economies, or redundant/cheaper water/healthy-food supplies; if petro-players were to make some such diversification now it should qualify as equivalent to a carbon reduction.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    It’s not the temperature records that will get attention, although they will.

    It’s the rainfall records. These 10 & 12 foot rainfall events, will shock everyone. These are just getting started.

    They are truly one of the ” Monsters Behind the Door”, that Hasen spoke of.

  11. Mark S says:

    The October UAH lower troposphere so far is tracking to equal the 1998 record. If you look at the temp profile of October it is likely to exceed the previous record…although this is with the old un-rejiggered data that they release to the public. With rejiggering who knows what it will be…

  12. Esop says:

    Russian scientists and local Scandinavian “weather men” are predicting the coldest European winter in 1000 years. We’ll see about that, but if the Arctic oscillation turns severly negative, like last winter, things will turn cold. Deniers will use this to make noise and the press will print every bit of it. The average global temperature will likely stay way up, though, like last winter, when January blasted a new average global temp record despite the European and NA cold spell.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    New stink coming out of Europe –

    Royal Society Humiliated by Global Warming Basic Math Error

    Read more at Suite101: Royal Society Humiliated by Global Warming Basic Math Error

    Don Draper does climate denial.

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    The #12 link –
    Here’s the first source list in the above article.

    Climate Science’s Worst Week in History

  15. Colorado Bob says:

    John O’Sullivan –

    This guy , seems to be a new clapper in the echo chamber.

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    Science writer and legal analyst specializing in anti-corruption, John O’Sullivan was born in Berkshire, England, of immigrant Irish parents in 1961. As an accredited academic, John taught and lectured for over twenty years at schools and colleges in the east of England as well as successfully litigating for over a decade in the New York State courts and U.S. federal 2nd circuit.

    A successful year, 2010 saw John establish himself as the world’s most popular Internet writer on the greenhouse gas theory (Google)

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    Puffery at it’s finest.

  18. Michael says:

    We have entered a moderate to strong La Niña, which NOAA says is “expected to last at least through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2010-11.”

    In fact, the (arguably) best ENSO index says this:

    The most recent (August-September) MEI value shows a continued drop from earlier this year, reaching -1.99, or 0.18 sigma below last month’s value, and 3.39 standard deviations below February-March, a record-fast six-month drop for any time of year, while slowing down a bit at the shorter time scales. The most recent MEI rank (lowest) is clearly below the 10%-tile threshold for strong La Niña MEI rankings for this season. One has to go back to July-August 1955 to find lower MEI values for any time of year.

    So not only do we have a strong La Nina right now, we have the second strongest La Nina on record, and the strongest for this time of the year (and fastest developing on record).

    Also notable is the comparison between satellite temperatures and GISS – even when you don’t factor in the base period difference, since GISS should be warmer when not adjusted because it uses a cooler base period.

  19. Colorado Bob says:

    Looking at the 2010 map above , the area above Hudson Bay –

    Churchill Manitoba –
    They are currently running 10F above average.

    Next 2 days calls for rain ……

    Friday – 42° F | 35° F

    Saturday – 39° F | 28° F

    The average high and low for Churchill tomorrow-

    26 F and 17 F

    Looks like that hot spot isn’t cooling off very fast.

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    Typhoon 15W (Megi) Warning #08

    This one is going to be mean .

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    Colorado Bob “It’s the rainfall records. These 10 & 12 foot rainfall events, will shock everyone. These are just getting started.”

    Yes, now which energy form is most reliable in these soon to be casual scenarios?

    Winner will be the decentralized community energy generation solution and infrastructure which harness also from biomass (BECCS) and which enhance soil fertility with biochar.

    Petrol infrastructure and the centralized energy distribution systems tend to collapse first. Meaning mostly the conservative “out of date” approach which fails to update existing technologies.

  22. Will G. says:

    We may break the record in 10′ and Hansen says 12′, but why is 2011 out of the picture? I’m guessing it’s the La Nina, but haven’t seen anyone say that. Just curious, of course it is all pointless other than a record year would (hopefully) drive headlines…and maybe, just maybe, get this world to care just a little.

    [JR: I posted Hansen’s analysis of this just a few days ago.]

  23. MarkB says:

    Although global mean temperature has definitely held up, it’s almost certain that anomalies will drop in the winter months, as is the case in moderate to strong la Ninas. This will give deniers some propaganda to fool the layperson. Expect “global temperature plunges” headlines with graphs starting in Jan. 2010.

    What’s notable is that global mean temperature during la Nina years are trending warmer. La Nina years of the 1970’s were much cooler than recent ones (last one being 2008). And we’re still near the solar min, although that will change in the next few years.

  24. Robert says:

    Colorado Bob @13 – the piece you link to about the RS is denier nonsense based on misinformation spawned by the Canada Free Press. Your piece states:

    “A gaffe in their own basic calculations led the RS to falsely find that CO2 would stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years rather than a dozen or so as per peer-reviewed studies show. Global warming skeptics have been quick to condemn the error and demand an apology and immediate correction.”

    In the highly unlikely event that man stopped emitting CO2 today, concentrations would take at least hundreds of years to decay not a “dozen or so”.

  25. Mike says:

    Bob: John O’Sullivan is a worthless right wing hack writer. I followed him on Climate Fraud. He says in his bio: “John establish[ed] himself as the world’s most popular Internet writer on the greenhouse gas theory (Google)”. What does that even mean? He says he is “an accredited academic”. What on Earth is that? He writes for the National Review. That should tell enough right there.

    And Bob, that article on the “Basic Math Error” is from a right wing news paper not a science journal. It is nonsense. I am a mathematician. The article is dribble.

  26. Dan B says:

    I’m beginning to believe that Tom Friedman was correct. “Wacky weather” may be the best description. If you look carefully at the temp anomaly maps posted above it’s clear that most of western Russia had a “normal” year for temperature from Jan to Sept. That would imply extreme cold from Jan to June in order for their nearly two month 20 degrees F above normal heat wave.

    The weather seems like a pressure cooker about to blow its lid. These extreme weather events seem to be organized around extreme high and low pressure cells, or ridges. They’re roaming around the world wreaking havoc. The only conclusion I reach is that we’re on the verge of a major reset of the climate. Weather that was predictable will baffle meteorologists and others whose forecasts depend upon “typical” seasonal weather.

    Has anyone seen any mapping of the Jet Stream?

    One of the predictors of a “reset” is extreme oscillation in the Jet Stream. That would also explain some of the wild and wacky weather we’ve been having and would predict some severe cold in at least one region this winter, possibly even crop-destroying freezes in Spring ’11.

    Any thoughts from the weather professionals?

  27. Ed Hummel says:

    Dan B: I run a local weather forecasting service from my house and I definitely agree with Friedman that the patterns are indeed “wacky”. The polar front jet has been having a tough time strengthening this fall and it’s already mid October. I would say that the main reason is that the high Arctic refuses to cool off the wait it “normally” does. Even Alert station way up on Elsmere Island has only dropped to near 0F while most of the rest of the CAnadian Archipelago has only dipped into the 20s as big surges of North Atlantic air continue push up the Davis Strait. I would say that reports of record warmth in the Arctic Ocean this past summer are still definitely having an effect as outbreaks of polar air that manage to come down across Canada don’t have much punch. What exists of the polar jet has been persistently putting central Maine (where I live and forecast)in a cool pattern since early September as a massive ridge persists over much of the West and plains. Yet we still managed to end September above normal and October has managed to remain near or a little above, despite the persistent cool pattern. So, to summarize, I would have to say that the lingering “warmth” in the Arctic is definitely having an effect on the Polar front jet stream by making it weaker and more sluggish that usual with a tendency for cutoff lows forming, especially near both east and west coasts and helping to enhance the rainfall events that we’ve been seeing lately. I wonder what Roy Spencer would make of that?!

  28. paulm says:

    The weather here in the northwest has be come very much more unpredictable than normal. Farmers are in dire straits with failed crop after crop.

  29. Esop says:

    #18 (Michael): That is very interesting data on the La Nina.
    So to sum things up: we are in the second strongest La Nina on record. The cooling effect from the deepest solar minimum in more than a century is at its strongest. In addition, we are in the much hyped (by skeptics) negative phase of the PDO (which according to denier predictions of last year should have caused global temps to plummet)
    Despite these natural cooling factors, we are seeing all time high temps in the UAH satellite record.
    THAT is food for thought.

  30. Michael says:

    Zambia recorded its hottest temperature in history Wednesday, October 13, when the mercury hit 42.4°C (108.3°F) in Mfuwe. The previous record was 42.3°C (108.1°F) set on November 17, 2005 in Mfuwe. Zambia is in the Southern Hemisphere, and we are still three months from the peak heat of summer, but the nation is sufficiently close to the Equator that record highs and lows can be set at any time during the year. Zambia is the 18th nation to record a hottest all-time temperature this year, which is a new record. The year 2007 is in second place, with 15 such records.

  31. dyuane says:

    Now that it is the hottest on record. Is the polarity shifting as well? I think it happens every thousand years. what it hot then as well?

  32. Roger B. says:

    Colorado Bob,

    Actually, Churchill, Manitoba has been well above average for the month of Oct. at 8.68 F (4.82 C) above the 1971-2000 average through Oct. 14. For the year through September, Churchill was 7.20 F (4.00 C) above the 1971-2000 average.

    Other towns in the Hudson Bay region have similar deviations for the year through September. Iqaluit was 6.85 F (3.81 C) above the 1971-2000 average and Moosonee was 6.53 F (3.63 C) above the 1971-2000 average. It’s been very warm in the region. That is why Hudson Bay was ice-free 4-6 weeks early this year.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  33. Michael says:


    “Pole shifts”? There is no physical mechanism for the Earth to suddenly shift on its axis (except for the very slight variations measured after major earthquakes, and long-term wobble), much less reverse poles (so the Arctic would now be where Antarctica is). Presumably, it is supposed by some to happen in 2012, but I don’t buy into that conspiracy theory, or any others attached to that date.

    Now, geomagnetic reversal is real, but the last one was 780,000 years ago, and there were no noted effects. A future reversal would just mean that we would have to reverse compasses, which could happen in the next few thousand years, also, it appears to affect the dipole part of the magnetic field much more than the total field, explaining the lack of adverse effects on life (since cosmic radiation should increase with a weaker field).

  34. MarkG says:

    Re: Rob 4:53 10/14 – Yes, many right-wingers deny AGW because they presume it will lead to a carbon tax. But by denying they miss a seat at the solutions table to push for approaches they would probably prefer (eg green technology tax credits).

    There could be a lot of tax-credit money (and a lot of jobs) in building a renewable-energy infrastructure. But while we dither China is looking for technology to patent and building solar panel factories. Go East, energy dollar.

  35. MarkG says:

    re: polarity shift – dyuane 11:01AM 10:15. Polarity shifts (by which I presume you mean geomagnetic shifts) happen in spurts and at their most frequent the time spans between them involve hundres of thousands of years, not every 1000 years. Millions of years usually pass between these clusters and it has been about 9 million years since the last geomagnetic reversal. Perhaps the 1000 years you cite is due to the speculation that current declines in the strength of the magnetic field might make it susceptible to a shift in another 1000 years.

    The apparent history of geomagnetic shifts does not align with known climate shifts. eg: the one million year cluster centered on 54 million years ago was during a 10-million-year period of warming, but the cluster that began 21 million years ago and ended 9 million years ago coincided with an overall decline in global temperatures that continued well after the shifts stopped.

    P.S “Polarity shift” (or “polar wander”) is an incredibly slow, continuous phenomenon involving distances of about 1 degree over approximately a million years and refers to the rotational pole, not the magnetic pole.

  36. MarkG says:

    Correction. Michael 10:40 is correct. The last reversal was the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal 780,000 years ago. The last cluster of reversals ended about 9 million years ago.

  37. Michael T says:

    NOAA State of the Climate Global Analysis – September 2010:

    NOAA: Year-to-Date Global Temperature Ties for Warmest on Record
    Arctic sea ice reaches its third lowest minimum extent on record:

  38. TedN says:

    Joe,wouldn’t it be wiser to stop emphasizing the record temperatures in conjunction with the solar minimum until we know how the Haigh et al paper in Nature holds up? See

    I’m surprised the deniers haven’t been running with this! Not that the solar cycle will have a dominent effect whatever its sign.

    [JR: If true, which, as I posted, RC doubts (and so do I), it would undermine the deniers main argument. But it flies in the face of lots of other research.]

  39. Chris Winter says:

    Robert wrote: “…the piece you link to about the RS is denier nonsense based on misinformation spawned by the Canada Free Press.”

    I’m beginning to see a pattern. Many of these newspapers in western Canada publish a lot of opinion pieces that deserve to be debunked.

    Alberta’s tar sands may have something to do with it.

  40. Chris Winter says:

    Regarding John O’Sullivan, Colorado Bob quoted: “A successful year, 2010 saw John establish himself as the world’s most popular Internet writer on the greenhouse gas theory (Google)”

    Wow! Does that mean he’s right up there with Cindy Margolis? ;-)

  41. Icarus says:

    Klaus Kaiser’s claim about how long atmospheric CO2 will remain at elevated levels seems to be based on current observations of how much CO2 is taken up by the natural world, and on misleading assertions about the residence time of *individual molecules* of CO2 in the atmosphere. I suspect he is going wildly wrong in ignoring the *effects* of CO2 over the time it remains in the atmosphere

    It is very clear from ice core data that rising temperature has always led to a rise in atmospheric CO2, at least in the last few hundred thousand years for which we have good data. Indeed, this point is frequently raised by climate ‘sceptics’ to cast doubt on the potential of rising CO2 to cause rising temperatures (rather than the other way round).

    Given that increased atmospheric CO2 causes increased temperature, and increased temperature causes increased atmospheric CO2, we wouldn’t expect CO2 to return to levels seen in the *cooler* climate state until the global temperature *also* declines, which with the enhanced greenhouse effect would be a very long time… and this interaction (as I understand it) is the main reason that CO2 is likely to remain at elevated levels for several millennia.

  42. Robert says:

    Chris @39
    I think the RS stuff all started here:

    I have noticed before that the CFP routinely run denier pieces.

  43. Sailesh Rao says:

    Re: #34 (Mark G), It is not clear that the carbon tax is at the root of the right wing resistance on AGW. Unlike traditional cultures that emphasize the interconnectedness of all beings, and that every action has consequences (Karma!), our industrial civilization attempts to isolate the individual from his/her actions and makes him/her of paramount importance. This egotistical framework gets worse when the Corporation is also treated as an Individual and mandated to be self-interested and grow without limits. You hear about pollution as an “externality”, which is impossible in the interconnected worldview.

    Nature is now asserting that the integrated model in traditional cultures is closer to reality than the individualistic view of our industrial civilization. That is, there is no “other” separate from the individual, that everything is connected, that all actions have consequences, that Karma is real, that the pollution spewed out indiscriminately will return in the form of carcinogens in our delicacies or in climate change that causes ecosystem collapses. The proponents of rugged individualism in industrial societies and self interested energy corporations are having a hard time admitting that their mechanistic, isolationist model of Nature is utter nonsense. This may be at the root of their last ditch resistance on accepting climate science, especially in the US, which is the bastion of rugged individualism. We need to gently, but firmly awaken them from their mechanistic, isolationist stupor, before their delusions kill off most complex Life on our beautiful Earth.