Climate

NOAA reports 2010 hottest year on record so far*

Zambia hits 108.3°F, 18th nation to set record high this year

Following fast on the heels of NASA reporting the hottest January to September on record, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center has released its State of the Climate: Global Analysis for September.  It finds:

For January-September 2010, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F) and tied with 1998 as the warmest January-September period on record.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters, the source of the figure above, reports on the national records set this year:

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. No nations have recorded an all-time coldest temperature so far this year.

Here’s Masters’ full list of “National heat records set in 2010”:

Belarus recorded its hottest temperature in its history on August 6, 2010, when the mercury hit 38.9°C (102.0°F) in Gorky. The previous record was 38.0°C (100.4°F) set at Vasiliyevichy on Aug. 20, 1946.

Ukraine recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury hit 42.0°C (107.6°F) at Lukhansk on August 12, 2010. The previous record was set at the same location on August 1, 2010–41.3°C (106.3°F). Ukraine also reached 41.3°C on July 20 and 21, 2007, at Voznesensk.

Cyprus recorded its hottest temperature in its history on August 1, 2010 when the mercury hit 46.6°C (115.9°F) at Lefconica. The old record for Cyprus was 44.4°C (111.9°F) at Lefkosia in August 1956. An older record of 46.6°C from July 1888 was reported from Nicosia, but is of questionable reliability.

Finland recorded its hottest temperature on July 29, 2010, when the mercury hit 37.2°C (99°F) at Joensuu. The old (undisputed) record was 95°F (35°C) at Jyvaskyla on July 9, 1914.

Qatar had its hottest temperature in history on July 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 50.4°C (122.7°F) at Doha Airport.

Russia had its hottest temperature in history on July 11, when the mercury rose to 44.0°C (111.2°F) in Yashkul, Kalmykia Republic, in the European portion of Russia near the Kazakhstan border. The previous hottest temperature in Russia (not including the former Soviet republics) was the 43.8°C (110.8°F) reading measured at Alexander Gaj, Kalmykia Republic, on August 6, 1940. The remarkable heat in Russia this year has not been limited just to the European portion of the country–the Asian portion of Russia also recorded its hottest temperature in history this year, a 42.7°C (108.9°F) reading at Ust Kara, in the Chita Republic on June 27. The 42.3°C (108.1°F) reading on June 25 at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China, also beat the old record for the Asian portion of Russia. The previous record for the Asian portion of Russia was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at Aksha on July 21, 2004.

Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history on June 22 when the mercury rose to 49.7°C (121.5°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.

Niger tied its record for hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.1°C (116.8°F) at Bilma. That record stood for just one day, as Bilma broke the record again on June 23, when the mercury topped out at 48.2°C (118.8°F). The previous record was 47.1°C on May 24, 1998, also at Bilma.

Saudi Arabia had its hottest temperature ever on June 22, 2010, with a reading of 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. The previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F), at Abqaiq, date unknown. The record heat was accompanied by a sandstorm, which caused eight power plants to go offline, resulting in blackouts to several Saudi cities.

Chad had its hottest day in history on June 22, 2010, when the temperature reached 47.6°C (117.7°F) at Faya. The previous record was 47.4°C (117.3°F) at Faya on June 3 and June 9, 1961.

Kuwait recorded its hottest temperature in history on June 15 in Abdaly, according to the Kuwait Met office. The mercury hit 52.6°C (126.7°F). Kuwait’s previous all-time hottest temperature was 51.9°C (125.4°F), on July 27,2007, at Abdaly. Temperatures reached 51°C (123.8°F) in the capital of Kuwait City on June 15, 2010.

Iraq had its hottest day in history on June 14, 2010, when the mercury hit 52.0°C (125.6°F) in Basra. Iraq’s previous record was 51.7°C (125.1°F) set August 8, 1937, in Ash Shu’aybah.

Pakistan had its hottest temperature in history on May 26, when the mercury hit an astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) at the town of MohenjuDaro, according to the Pakistani Meteorological Department. While this temperature reading must be reviewed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for authenticity, not only is the 128.3°F reading the hottest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan, it is the hottest reliably measured temperature ever recorded on the continent of Asia. The old Pakistani record was 52.8°C (127°F) at Jacobabad in 1919.

Myanmar (Burma) had its hottest temperature in its recorded history on May 14, when the mercury hit 47.2°C (117.0°F) in Myinmu. This broke the record of 47.0°C set at the same location two days previous (May 12.) Myanmar’s previous hottest temperature was 46.0°C (114.4°F) at Magwe in May, 1980. According to Chris Burt, author of the authoritative weather records book Extreme Weather, the 47.2°C measured this year is the hottest temperature in Southeast Asia history.

Ascention Island (St. Helena, a U.K. Territory) had its hottest temperature in history on March 25, 2010, when the mercury hit 34.9°C (94.8°F) at Georgetown. The previous record was 34.0°C (93.2°F) at Georgetown in April 2003, exact day unknown.

The Solomon Islands had their hottest temperature in history on February 1, 2010, when the mercury hit 36.1°C (9°F) at Honiara Henderson. The previous record for the Solomon Islands was 35.6°C (96.0°F) at Honaiara, date unknown.

Colombia had its hottest reliably measured temperature in history on January 24, 2010, when Puerto Salgar hit 42.3°C (108°F). The previous record was 42.0°C (107.6°F) at El Salto in March 1988 (exact day unknown)Some unreliable extreme highs include 43.0°C at Puerto Salgar in May 2002, and 42.7°C at Barrancabermeja in December 1949.

All-time national heat records were missed by 1°C or less in many other nations this summer, including China, the Azores, Morocco, Estonia, and Latvia.

Extensive credit for researching these records goes to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, who maintains a comprehensive set of extreme temperature records on his web site.

And again, the record warmth that 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 notes:

Finally, as reported early this month, NASA’s James Hansen projects that 2012 may beat out 2010 for hottest year and see even more extreme weather (see NASA’s Hansen: Would recent extreme “events have occurred if atmospheric carbon dioxide had remained at its pre-industrial level of 280 ppm?” The “appropriate answer” is “almost certainly not”):

Given the dominant effect of El Nino-La Nina on short-term temperature change and the usual lag of a few months between the Nino index and its effect on global temperature, it is unlikely that 2011 will reach a new global record temperature.

In contrast, it is likely that 2012 will reach a record high global temperature. The principal caveat is that the duration of the current La Nina could stretch an extra year, as some prior La Ninas have. Given the association of extreme weather and climate events with rising global temperature, the expectation of new record high temperatures in 2012 also suggests that the frequency and magnitude of extreme events could reach a high level in 2012. Extreme events include not only high temperatures, but also indirect effects of a warming atmosphere including the impact of higher temperature on extreme rainfall and droughts. The greater water vapor content of a warmer atmosphere allows larger rainfall anomalies and provides the fuel for stronger storms driven by latent heat.

In short, the forecast is hottest — and then even hotter.

10 Responses to NOAA reports 2010 hottest year on record so far*

  1. Esop says:

    Interesting scenario:
    UAH is currently running hotter than GISS. What if UAH (despite rejiggering)turns out to put 2010 as the warmest on record, while GISS will not (as it seems)
    I wonder if our reality denying friends all of a sudden will embrace the surface record and reject their former favorite, UAH.

  2. JeandeBegles says:

    Joe,
    Thank you for these very valuable date, factual evidences of the on going global warming.
    18 countries breaking their historical highest temperature record, versus 0 country for their coldest is a very impressive figure, and 2010 is not over yet!

  3. Paulm says:

    People are exhausted,” Vietnamese disaster official Nguyen Ngoc Giai said by telephone from Quang Binh province

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/18/super-typhoon-megi-hits-philippines

  4. Larry Gilman says:

    I can’t say I like the Climate Central graphic. The colored horizontal bars are just visual busy-busy. Worse, the slanted straight-line left edge of the stack is just there to create diagonal drama — it conveys zero information and reduces this image to the level of a pseudo-graph (although the bars’ left endpoints _could_ have been used to specify the previous record high in each country).

    These data don’t need to be tarted up like this. Good Lord, they’re hair-raising enough as it is.

    More people gotta read Tufte . . . . http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_vdqi .

    [JR: I’m not a visual person. Can you [or anyone] do a better graph?]

  5. Larry Gilman says:

    Also, the horizontal scale is inconsistent. E.g., the 3-degree gap between 99 degrees (Finland) and 102 (Belarus) is half the length of the 1.1-degree gap between 125.6 (Iraq) and 126.7 (Kuwait). This is a junk graph.

  6. rick says:

    I don’t like the graph either, and agree with above objections. For most people the sheer number of high records set is far less convincing than the imbalance of high records versus low records. How about simply a list of all coutries and their average temp for the year with bright red for high record set, white for no record, and blue for low record?

  7. Hi, I’m the managing editor at Climate Central, which produced the graphic that Jeff Masters updated. I understand some of the criticism of it, although we’ve received almost entirely positive feedback to date. I think it’s hard to please both the folks who are very focused on climate science and read blogs such as this one regularly (including myself), and are used to seeing scientific data in certain formats, and people who may come across such graphics without having had much background in climate data analysis. Many of the visuals that get posted here and on other climate blogs are more technical than they are visually appealing, whereas the general public is drawn to infographics of a different sort.

    What we’re trying to do is make the science clear and compelling for more general audiences, and graphics such as this help accomplish this goal. That said, your suggestions on improving the accuracy of such graphics are welcome.

  8. just a comment re the Zambia record. While “we are still three months from the peak heat of summer” the rains would normally start sometime close to the end of October which will cool things down. October is considered the hotest month.

  9. Richard Brenne says:

    Several things stand out about these records, and I’m very grateful to Jeff Masters at Weather Underground, Andrew Freeman at Climate Central, and all the great NASA, NOAA and NCDC folks who gather and interpret all such data.

    And I always took the “graph” of 18 national temperature records to just be a “graphic” like USA Today uses, though I do like the idea of a graph such as Rick (#6) suggests.

    One thing to note is that both Cyprus and Finland shattered their all-time records by 4 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry for the F, I write and speak mostly to U.S. audiences), which is notable. As I’ve suggested before about an amendment to Gerald Meehl’s paper about the 48 states, I think it’d also be interesting to look at the average amount records are broken by. My guess is that U.S. daily heat records are broken by an average closer to 2 degrees, while cold records are broken by an average closer to 1 degree.

    This very concise list of all-time weather records is interesting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_weather_records

    Of the 58 national and continental cold records listed, only 2 were set in the 2000s, one at Dome A at 13,422 feet in Antarctica where the weather station and record only began in 2005, and the other at Pampa Alta Pass in the Andes at 45 degrees latitude south (same as Yellowstone) that I suspect also hasn’t been measured for too long.

    Conversely, of the 63 national and continental heat records, 27 were set in the 2000s. They didn’t list the Solomon and Ascension Island records, or those of Columbia and Zambia, and they choose an old Israeli record over the more-commonly-agreed-upon Pakistan record for Asia.
    Several rainfall, high and low barometric pressure records have also been set in the 2000s, including quite possibly the lowest barometric pressure for a tropical cyclone at landfall only yesterday as Typhoon Megi slammed into Luzon in the Philippines.

    It is important to do the full-cost accounting of all this and realize that things like barometric pressure are much more accurately measured today and since satellites than in the historical record.

    But that cuts both ways. People have historically lived and set up weather stations much more in valleys and hot places like Death Valley than extremely cold and remote places like Dome A in Antarctica.

    Since thermometers were developed in 1724 (Fahrenheit’s) and 1744 (Celsius’) meteorologists have known to hang them in the shade so as to not get direct sunlight and reflected heat. The all-time record of 136 degrees Fahrenheit in Libya in 1922 is most suspect (read Jeff Masters’ excellent article about this, and most of all read his incredibly gripping account of flying into Hurricane Hugo at 1500 feet and losing one and nearly two engines, a masterpiece of reporting with incredible honesty and candor). The thermometer was kept in a too-enclosed shed that skewered the record with a mini-greenhouse effect.

    Lastly, my heart goes out to all Filipinos, Chinese and Vietnamese who are suffering the effects of Typhoon Megi as we speak. The Vietnamese rainfall of one or more dozens of inches of rainfall in many places is coming immediately on the heels of dozens of inches of rainfall from other recent storms (anyone care to track this and comment)?

    The conclusions: Human influence on climate, especially the burning of prodigious amounts of fossil fuels (including almost a trainload of coal that would stretch from Anthro-Earth to the Sun) has dramatically changed the climate. There are far more record heat than cold events, heat waves than cold snaps, droughts and dramatic storms of all kinds than the predictable precipitation patterns agriculture and all of civilization’s infrastructure has been developed to handle.

    And we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    The only sensible reaction is to mitigate by burning less and less fossil fuels all the time. Adaption is more or less a given, but mitigation is the key. And if we fail to mitigate, we can expect a climate that is completely unrecognizable and inhospitable to humans, beginning in most of the lifetimes of all humans on Anthro-Earth, and shortening if not ending them.

  10. Barry says:

    Here is my attempt at a better graphic for the 18 nations that set all time highs this year: http://www.saxifrages.org/eco/show17h0s/