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Bye-bye, global cooling myth: Hottest March and hottest Jan-Feb-March on record

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"Bye-bye, global cooling myth: Hottest March and hottest Jan-Feb-March on record"


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UAH Spencer March 10

It was the hottest March in both satellite records (UAH and RSS), and tied for the hottest March on record in the NASA dataset.  It was the hottest (or tied for hottest) January through March in all three records.

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

NASA’s prediction from last month is standing up:  “It is nearly certain that a new record 12-month global temperature will be set in 2010.”³ Actually, NASA made that prediction back in January 2009:

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

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.” Indeed, the overwhelming  majority of the warming went right where scientists had predicted “” into the oceans (see “How we know global warming is happening“):

Figure: “Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al 2008.”

Yes, some people are unable to actually click on links, so let’s review another JGR article, “Global hydrographic variability patterns during 2003-2008” (subs. req’d, draft here) details an analysis of “monthly gridded global temperature and salinity fields from the near-surface layer down to 2000 m depth based on Argo measurements.”  Background on Argo here.   Their findings are summed up in this figure:

Figure [2]: Time series of global mean heat storage (0-2000 m), measured in 108 Jm-2.

Still warming, after all these years!  And just where you’d expect it.  The study makes clear that upper ocean heat content, perhaps not surprisingly, is simply far more variable than deeper ocean heat content, and thus an imperfect indicator of the long-term warming trend.

NASA’s 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.”

NOAA points out that both satellite data sets show about the same amount of warming as the land-based record, “which increased at a rate near 0.16°C/decade (0.29°F/decade) during the same 30-year period” “” once you remove the expected stratospheric cooling from the satellite records (see NOAA discussion here).

After the endless disinformation-based global cooling stories of the past few years, it’s time for the media to start do some serious fact-based global warming stories.

The top figure is from Roy Spencer’s blog.

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38 Responses to Bye-bye, global cooling myth: Hottest March and hottest Jan-Feb-March on record

  1. paulm says:

    Not even a mention of climate change and what a crisis were in. The MSM are letting humanity down.

    Once-in-a-generation drought creates water crisis in Alberta

    Fields failed to grow and fellow ranchers sold off their herds, unable or unwilling to pay to import feed. Now, Alberta is in the grip of a once-in-a-generation drought with the driest back-to-back years on record since the 1880s, poised grimly to drag into a third year with little snow over the winter and, according to Environment Canada, a long, hot spring and summer ahead.

    “It’s almost as if nature has forgotten to rain and snow in Alberta,” says David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

  2. Steve Bloom says:

    As long as we’re ascribing human traits to nature, why not say that it’s using the drought and beetle infestation to punish Alberta for the tar sands?

  3. Todd F says:

    I think it is worth noting that April 2009 – March 2010 is the hottest 12 month period on record, with regard to NASA’s instrumental temperature record, with an average anomaly of +0.637C.

    The previous record was tied between January 2005-December 2005 and August 2006-July 2007, both at +0.621C.

    Very good chance the record will be broken again next month. And the month after that.

  4. Leif says:

    First it was the pine bark beetles decimating millions of acres of western interior forests from Colorado to Alaska.
    Now it looks like the coastal forest of Douglas Fir are next in line.


    You might want to look at this a bit closer Joe and spring it at your testimony this week. A few well chosen photos of pine devastation which is well established to climatic disruption coupled with this report of thousand of affected acres of prime coastal, $$$, forest should turn a few heads.

  5. Bob Wallace says:

    Swiss needle cast in the coastal Doug firs isn’t as obvious as the beetle kills.

    Needle cast causes Dougs to essentially stop growing for a while, it rarely kills. It will be most noticed in terms of commercial timber decreases.

  6. Leif says:

    Bob Wallace, #5: So far… Beetle damage did not amount to much early either. 370,000 acres is not insignificant. Lets see what a record warm year brings us. It does look like mono planting is also a factor but there again that also represents man’s negligence.

  7. We can regret the lack of understanding, the failure to re-act to the facts, the ignorance of the science on heat radiation, etc., etc.
    So what? Can you convert and alcoholic to get him to quit?
    The fact is that, most probably, each of us learnt on our own, not because they pounded it into us, like they did in First or Second Grade.
    We need to get them to teach to themselves. Make the youth, teach the youth. For example, some like to argue and debate in High School.
    Maybe Climate Progress could promote, somehow, a National High School Debate Contest on Global Warming. But, with a twist.
    All participants must be ready to debate both sides of the issue because they will not know, until after they are presented in public, which side they are supposed to defend.
    Maybe, Exxon and Duke Energy will support this with a hefty prize and all the publicity they want. It can be done right, but I am not the one to define the details… sorry. I have learnt that, and other fields, is not my field. I am just an Engineer that majored in Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer and Radiation, heat radiation, that is.

  8. Bob Wallace says:

    Dougs kind of mono-plant themselves around here.

    At the bottom of my property (3,200′) the tanoaks stop and from there on up it’s Dougs with a few oaks mixed in and the odd madrone. Dougs go all the way to the top of the highest stuff around here (~5,500).

    Lower down the slopes, below the tanoaks, live the pines.

    And further down where the summer fog settles in are the Coastal redwoods (and lots of poison oak).

  9. paulm says:

    #2, Tar sands are a strategic US military resource and so will not be shut down anytime soon whatever the enviromental impact or protest is.

    Future fuel supplies are of acute importance to the US army because it is believed to be the biggest single user of petrol in the world. BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, said recently that there was little chance of crude from the carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands being banned in America because the US military like to have local supplies rather than rely on the politically unstable Middle East.

  10. Doug Bostrom says:

    Michael F. Sarabia says: April 13, 2010 at 12:43 am

    All participants must be ready to debate both sides of the issue because they will not know, until after they are presented in public, which side they are supposed to defend.

    I think that would be all the education most people need; having learned the dire poverty of real controversy in this matter, many if not all participants would resign rather than face the risk of public humiliation through the poor luck of drawing the short straw. There’s a good reason why folks claiming cures for AIDS and the common cold such as Chris Monckton along with garbage digging lawyers like Chris Horner are the opposing public face of “debate” on this matter.

  11. fj2 says:

    Totally irresponsible that this is not front page news on the New York Times and this country’s other major newspapers; and TV news.

  12. fj2 says:

    This graph of ocean heating compared to land and atmosphere heating is most important.

  13. Ken Lambert says:

    So here we have a report talking about the first quarter of 2010 being the ‘hottest on record’ and then saying that; ” Indeed, the overwhelming majority of the warming went right where scientists had predicted — into the oceans (see “How we know global warming is happening”) FROM A CHART WHICH ENDS IN 2003!!

    Hello?? How do you get the heat from the last 6 years of the ‘warmest on record’ decade up to 2010 into a chart which ends in 2003??

    Warming has now enlisted *time travel* on its side…………??

    It is as meaningful as trumpeting the coolest quarters in the last 10 years occurring in 2008 being of great significance.

    If you read Dr Trenberth’s 2009 paper he specifically points out that the OHC divergence starts around 2004 and the last 4-5 years cannot be balanced.

    That is his ‘lack of warming’ for the last 4-5 years.

    [JR: You are apparently unable to click on the links I provide before posting your disinformation. You have mischaracterized Trenberth, who, in any case, didn't have the latest data down to 2 km that I have just reposted from the link I provided. And people wonder why my posts are so long -- because if you don't repost everything every time you write about every subject, the disinformers jump in with their anti-science BS. Post your crap elsewhere, Ken.]

  14. Climate_Warrior says:

    Nice one Ken Lambert. You’re an idiot, right?

  15. Michael T says:

    NASA March 2010 Temperature Anomalies:

    Here is how 2010, so far, compares with the two other years (1998, 2005) with the warmest annual means:

    In the first 3 months, 2010 is already well above ’98 & ’05. Only Jan-Feb-Mar 2007 was warmer than the first three months of this year when looking at the NASA record.

    [JR: Only 2002 was as warm in the dataset. If temps say anywhere near March anomaly, it'll be a blowout year.]

  16. Leif says:

    Bob Wallace, #8: I am not sure that I understand what you are trying to say here. On the one hand you say Doug Fir mono-plant themselves and then go right on and point out the diversity in your area. Fungus transported by breeze and wind will be most effective if it finds a host close. In addition we do not know if the trees are more susceptible from water stress or perhaps warmer temperatures. We obviously know that Doug Fir have a preferred ecosystem, elevation in your case, and if planted outside of that zone might in and of itself put those trees under stress thus starting a chain reaction spreading to healthier trees. Another factor. Coastal fog no longer penetrates as far inland as the past. Because of all the coastal development with buildings, roads, fields, etc. the air warms quickly once off the water. Once that water vapor transitions from fog to vapor it is no longer available to condense on the night cooled needles of the forest above. You can be sure that the forest depended on that water during the dry summer months. Perhaps that is in fact what makes some species elevation dependent. I recently read in Smithsonian Mag that the Redwoods were receiving 30% less fog than ~60 years ago. They did not know why. I wrote them a letter! In essence there is a warm “fence” between the water and the trees now.

  17. mike roddy says:

    Leif, I agree, you can’t extrapolate past fungus behavior with current conditions, which are unique.

    The reason there’s less fog on the coast is that the Northwest coastal forests have been liquidated. Scrubby clearcuts or eighty foot trees capture a lot less fog than the two to three hundred footers that thrived there for millions of years.

  18. Eric says:

    I thought weather and climate werent the same thing? Thats what everyone said during the snow storms.

    [JR: Uhh, actually the disinformers said they were the same thing. The rest of us focus on record smashing events and global average temps and the like.]

  19. Bob Wallace says:

    leif – The trees self-plant in mono cultures here based on multiple factors.

    When Doug firs are cut for timber Doug firs are replanted. Timber companies don’t try to plant redwoods in Doug fir locales nor Dougs in redwood locales.

    The various same-species trees grow close together in large numbers in their natural state. The spread of a pest or disease will have no trouble being spread through native stands as it gets introduced or climatic factors allow it to spread.

    What I’m trying to get across to you is that the problem of both needle cast and bark beetles is not a result of timber farming, but climate change.

  20. MapleLeaf says:

    Eric at 18,

    I agree with Dr. Romm’s response to you. The contrarian crowd have it the wrong way round, again. For example, WUWT regularly tries to convince people that AGW is a non-issue by highlighting regional and even local negative temperature anomalies which are cherry-picked so as to not be consistent with the increase of the global mean temperature. They are comparing apples and oranges, and trying to muddy the waters by saying that regional and local weather prove that global climate disruption (AGW) is not an issue.

    Here Dr. Romm is pointing out that March 2010 was the record warmest March globally on record, while the same is true for the January-March period. ToddF @3 pointed out that globally the last 12 months have the warmest on record. These global data are consistent with the observed long-term (and stat. sig.)warming in global temperatures as measured by several independent data sets and observation platforms.

    So far the NASA and UKMet Office predictions for 2010 being the warmest on record (after 2005) look to be on track. They do provide caveats though, that forecast will probably not be realised if a strong La Nina develops or if there is a major volcanic eruption in the tropics. Latest guidance and in-situ observations show that the current El Nino is weakening, and that weak La Nina conditions could be in place by mid summer. We’ll have to see how it all pans out.

    Either way, here are some quick facts from NASA. 2009 was the second warmest year globally on record, 2010 will probably be the warmest or new second warmest. Globally, the naughts were the warmest decade on record. 1998 is dropping in the ranks (currently tied with 2002 as the third warmest year on record). After this year, 1998 will probably be ranked the fourth warmest. The contrarians have long lost their holy grail (i.e., 1998).

  21. Harold Chapman says:

    please reread all of this after the april data is in.

  22. MapleLeaf says:

    Harold @21, you are probably referring to the fact that currently the UAH AMSU data are tracking quite a bit below the record values? You should also note then that they are still above the 2005 values (as are the SSTs), and that globally 2005 was the warmest on record according to NASA GISS. Anyhow, every month does not have to be a record high in order for the annual global temperature to break the record high.

    I think that you are misinterpreting the message and big picture in Dr. Romm’s post.

    [JR: Yes, April 1998 was the hottest month in the satellite records (we seem overly sensitive to ENSO, but in any case don't measure surface temps) -- but not in the other records. This year still seems likely to be the hottest year in every temperature record.]

  23. MapleLeaf says:

    Dr. Romm @ 22,

    Thanks, you are right.

    The warmest April in the NASA GISS data (until 2009) was in 2007 at +0.67 C. It is looking highly likely right now that the global SATs for NASA GISS in April 2010 will be the warmest on record.

    It is going to be an interesting year that is for sure.

  24. Leif says:

    Bob Wallace, #19: Again we appear to be sparring with us both agreeing on the same basic assumptions. I fully agree with you that replanting does not put firs in redwood environments. The point I was trying to make is that mature old growth forests will have a mixture of fir, hemlock, cedar, perhaps even some spruce as well. Clear cut re-plantings tend to be more fir as it is a higher value species. Areas that might have been predominately hemlock might now be planted in fir and cedar and spruce left out of the mix completely Any fungal spoor transmission will have an easier time moving in a mono-culture than a mixed forest. Any climatic induced stress will be magnified in a mono-culture more than a mixed ecosystem.

  25. Todd F says:

    I agree it will be an interesting year. I think we’ve hit the peak for this year, and the Nino index is sliding, and forecasted to reach into neutral territory by mid-year and maybe even a weak Nina by end of the year. Nevertheless, my toy model suggests GISS’s 2010 surface temp will break the 2005 record by about 0.05C. I wouldn’t consider it as a certainty yet, but it does seem very likely that a record will be broken.

    I haven’t been hearing much about the Sun lately from “skeptics”. But, I think we just got to keep pounding away that the surface temperature records are breaking in spite of the coldest solar minimum in a 100 years.

    But, no doubt the surface temperature measurements will continue to be scrutinized for its reliability. If you can’t blame the Sun, then there must be something wrong with the data.

  26. Steve Bloom says:

    Joe, David Appell points out that this month has *already* set a new record high per the GISS record. The metric he used is a running 12-month average, which is less arbitrary than using full calendar or even meteorological years.

  27. #3 Todd – “I think it is worth noting that April 2009 – March 2010 is the hottest 12 month period on record, with regard to NASA’s instrumental temperature record, with an average anomaly of +0.637C.”

    I haven’t checked this, but it should be worth highlighting, and maybe comparing to other data records like HADCRU and satellite. I think it’s a noteworthy figure for PR purposes – it’s noteworthy not in and of itself, but as something that’s consistent with a long term trend and contradicting denialist lies about recent cooling.

  28. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #s 3, 26 and 27: Apologies for having not noticed that Todd pointed the GISS 12-month running average record first. The source I linked to is long-time science journalist David Appell, who says he ran the numbers. I think he can be relied on for something like this, but actually it’s pretty easy to confirm since all but about six April-March periods can be excluded by eyeball.

  29. Bob Wallace says:

    leif – we’re are taking up way too much space with off topic posts.

    So I’ll make this one last attempt to get this across to you. Old growth coastal Douglas fir forests are *not* diverse. Doug firs, within the areas where they thrive, grow taller than any other tree, throw out a canopy, and shade out all the undergrowth and smaller trees.

    Go into a mature Doug fir stand and it is Doug fir shaking hands with Doug fir. Those other trees grow where the Doug firs don’t want to. Doug firs rule here.

    Down low, where the summer fog reaches, redwoods rule. They snuff out the competition.

    Mixed forests, here on the NoCA coast, are largely transitional zones.

  30. Todd F says:

    Brian #27, right now it’s only GISS that’s showing a 12 month record, and I am doubtful that the others will show any 12-month records anytime soon.

    HadCrut is probably furthest off. None of the last 12 month anomalies are above the 1998 average. It’s highly doubtful that 2010 will the be hottest on record from this source. GISS and HadCRU have diverged quite a bit lately mainly due to the negative arctic oscillation. HadCRU has very weak coverage of the Arctic, which happens to have had a very hot winter (and relatively cooler back in 1998). GISS’s coverage is wider due to a much larger smoothing radius. I expect the March anomaly will jump up quite a bit because the -AO neutralized in March. But, it’s still a long ways to go before a record can form, and chances are a Nina will strike before this can happen.

    The satellite records have a bit of a ways to go. It’s unclear to me whether either a 12 month record will be set, or if a record annual anomaly will be set. They show a very cool 2009 spring. I think we need to see the next three or so months before we start getting in the vicinity of a record. As JR pointed out, satellites are very sensitive to NINO oscillations, and the current Nino is weaker than the super nino of 1997/1998.

  31. Michael T says:

    Some interesting NASA maps of the mean surface temperature anomaly for the past month, the past three months, and the past 12 months.

    “Regional weather patterns, apparent on the monthly time scale, tend to disappear in averages over longer time scales. In the chart in the lower right we show the 12-month running means of the global land-ocean temperature anomalies. We have suggested that there is at least a 50 percent likelihood that 2010 will be the warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, for reasons that are apparent from the next figure.”

    Monthly and 12-month running mean global land-ocean temperature anomaly:

    These and other figures are available at the Columbia University web pages, which are maintained by Makiko Sato of NASA GISS:

  32. Anonymous says:

    Todd F says:
    > Brian #27, right now it’s only GISS that’s showing a 12 month
    > record, and I am doubtful that the others will show any 12-month
    > records anytime soon.

    Todd, why do you say this? You’re aware, I assume, that decade-wise the ’00s were far ahead of all other recorded decades by about 0.2 C, no matter who does the measurement — GISS, HadCRUT3, UAH or RSS….

  33. Todd – thanks. Do you have a handy link for HadCrut?

    The UAH data that Joe links to comes with a running 12 month mean, and current temps (.380) aren’t close to the record (.519). OTOH, 2010 is running ahead of 1998 so far.

    Anon – last ten years were warmer than the 90′s for every data set, looking at multiyear averages. 1998 was different though.

    Anyway, I’m beating a drum about this here: http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2010/04/we-have-record-hottest-12-months-since.html

  34. Todd F says:

    #32, I should clarify that when I say “anytime soon”, I’m talking about 2010, and the current El Nino. I’m not suggesting that the next El Nino won’t bring a 12-month record in the HadCrut analysis. It’s still possible that HadCRUT could break a record for 2010, it just seems unlikely at this stage. I would concur that the global warming trend adjusted to exclude natural variability is about +0.2C/decade right now.

    Normally, a Nino of this strength would be sufficient to break a record, but a strong Negative Arctic Oscillation has transferred a lot of the Earth’s heat energy to the Arctic Circle, which HadCrut largely ignores, hence they very likely understate current anomalies.

    #33 Brian, it’s always a bit tricky to find if it’s not bookmarked: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3gl.txt.

  35. JasonW says:

    Hmm, let’s see how the volcanic eruption on Iceland enters the picture. Nothing truly major yet, but it might cause a dip. If it does deniers will take that as a welcome cause to go on about the global cooling canard again. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad…

  36. Michael T says:

    NOAA also reports March to be the warmest on record.

    Global Temps Push Last Month to Hottest March on Record:

    “The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2010 was the warmest on record at 56.3°F (13.5°C), which is 1.39°F (0.77°C) above the 20th century average of 54.9°F (12.7°C).”

    “The worldwide ocean surface temperature was the highest for any March on record –1.01°F (0.56°C) above the 20th century average of 60.7°F (15.9°C).”

  37. Ian George says:

    The last lengthy solar minimum was between 1911-13. Then followed two very hot years, 1914 and 1915.
    Do we see the same thing happening here?