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NASA Finds 2011 Ninth Warmest Year on Record
Article 1 /
2 with Video
The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the
ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists.
The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10
warmest years in the modern meteorological record have
occurred since the year 2000.
01.14.11 and 01.21.10
for previous years of record-setting heat.
Different Records, Same Warming Trend NASA
Each year, scientists from several major
institutions tally the temperature data collected at
stations around the world and make independent judgments
about whether the year was warm or cool compared to
previous years. On January 12, 2011, the
NASA group announced that 2010 had tied 2005 as the
warmest year in their 131-year instrumental
record. NOAA also declared 2010 to be tied with 2005.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency noted in a
preliminary analysis that 2010 was the second warmest.
But how much does the ranking of a single year matter?
Not all that much, said James Hansen, the director of
NASA GISS. In his group’s analysis, 2010 differed from
2005 by less than 0.01°C (0.018 °F), a difference so
small that the temperatures of the two years are almost
indistinguishable, given the uncertainty of the
calculation. Meanwhile, the third warmest year, 2009, is
so close to 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007 (the
maximum difference between years is 0.03°C), that all
six years are virtually tied.
Ray Weymann's Comments:
In spite of repeated news items about record setting
GLOBAL temperatures over the pasts decade, I continue to
run across uninformed statements to the fact that
'global warming has ceased since 1998'. Or, that
'the recent cold weather in the United States' (or
somewhere else) proves that there is no global warming'.
This news item demonstrates that these statements are
false -- but I don't expect that this will change those
minds who think that all four of the institutions
reporting on global temperatures are part of a gigantic
Despite Subtle Differences, Global Temperature Records in Close
Groups of scientists from several major institutions – NASA’s
Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), NOAA's National Climatic
Data Center (NCDC), the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the Met
Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom – tally data collected by
temperature monitoring stations spread around the world and make an
announcement about whether the previous year was a comparatively
warm or cool year. NASA’s announcement this year – that 2010
ties 2005 as the warmest year in the 131-year instrumental record –
made headlines. But, how much does the ranking of a single year
A Positive Outlook for Clouds Skeptical
The effect of clouds in a warming world is a difficult
one to predict. One challenge is that clouds have both
warming and cooling effects. Low-level clouds in
particular tend to cause a cooling effect by reflecting
sunlight, while high-level clouds tend to cause a
warming effect by trapping heat ....
Ray Weymann's Comments:
As I discuss in my tutorial on
"Forcings" and "Feedbacks",
there is pretty nearly universal agreement among climate
science experts that the largest uncertainty in
predicting how much warming results from increased CO2
in the atmosphere arises from whether cloud 'feedbacks'
are positive or negative. The Skeptical Science article
"A Positive Outlook for Clouds" linked above,
gives a very nice summary of the situation. The only
thing I would add to this article is the fact that the
history of our climate revealed by paleo-climatologists
would be very difficult to explain if effects due to
clouds negated most of the warming associated with
increasing CO2 content in the atmosphere.
Secrets Beneath the Ice PBS NOVA
Almost three miles of ice buries most of Antarctica,
cloaking a continent half again as large as the United
States. But when an Antarctic ice shelf the size of
Manhattan collapsed in less than a month in 2002, it
shocked scientists and raised the alarming possibility
that Antarctica may be headed for a meltdown. Even a 10
percent loss of Antarctica's ice would cause
catastrophic flooding of coastal cities unlike any seen
before in human history. What are the chances of a
widespread melt? "Secrets Beneath the Ice" explores
whether Antarctica's climate past can offer clues to
what may happen. This item is also
posted on the Resources
page under Videos.
How Will We Know if 2010 Was the Warmest Year on Record?
Institute for Space Studies (GISS) announced
that November was the warmest month in its record books
— and that 2010 overall may well turn out to be the
warmest year ever. Now, the
Climatic Data Center (NCDC), part of the
National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has published
the results of its own calculations, showing that
November was the second warmest, not the first .....
Ray Weymann's Comments:
The question of whether the Earth is continuing to warm
on a GLOBAL AVERAGE, despite the cold weather in Europe
on the one hand, and whether 2010 may turn out to be the
warmest year on record on the other, has attracted a lot
of discussion -- some of it informed, much of it not.
The summary article "How Will We Know if 2010 Was the
Warmest Year on Record" (via the Climate Central
link above), written by a reporter in Colorado, is an
excellent and informed discussion of just what we mean
by the "instrumental global temperature record" and how
various groups go about making their best estimates of
it. I highly recommend it to all readers.
I also highly recommend
website. Note that, in the graph in the article, the
various estimates do not agree very well before 1900
when the data were pretty sparse and not very reliable.
Below is a second graph from the most experienced and
respected groups now computing global averages using the
data starting around 1900 (from the excellent website
Science). The two main take-home messages in my
view, are, that:
a) while various groups may disagree about which
particular year (2005? 2010? ...) will turn out to be
warmest, the differences between these groups are very
b) the upward trend in temperatures is continuing: each
decade 1970-1980, 1980-1990, 1990-2000, 2000-2010
has been hotter than the previous one.
NASA: 2010 Meteorological Year Warmest Ever
The 2010 meteorological year, which ended on 30
November, was the warmest in NASA's 130-year record,
data posted by the agency today shows. Over the oceans
as well as on land, the average global temperature for
the 12-month period that began last December was
14.65˚C. That's 0.65˚C warmer than the average global
temperature between 1951 and 1980, a period scientists
use as a basis for comparison. The 2010
meteorological year was slightly warmer than the
previous warmest year, the 2005 calendar year, when the
average temperature was 14.53˚C.
Rivers Run Dry as Drought Hits Amazon
October marked the end of one of the worst Amazon
droughts on record — a period of tinder-dry forests,
dusty cropland and rivers falling to unprecedented lows.
Streams are the highways of the deep jungle and they’re
also graveyards for dead trees, usually hidden safely
under fathoms of navigable water. But not this year, and
the drought’s significance extends far beyond impeded
boats. While the region has seen dry spells before,
locals and experts say droughts have grown more frequent
and severe. Scientists say there’s mounting evidence the
Amazon's shifting weather may be caused by global
climate change ....
Scientists Respond to Lord Monckton's May 2010 Testimony
to the U.S. Congress
On May 6, 2010, a select group of four scientists
and one climate science challenger gave testimony "The
Foundation of Climate Science" to the U.S. House of
Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence
and Global Warming in Washington, D.C. The panel
consisted of the following speakers:
Graumlich, Director, School of Natural Resources and
the Environment, University of Arizona, and
member of the “Oxburgh Inquiry” panel
Dr. Chris Field, Director, Department of Global
Ecology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and
“Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of new IPCC report
due in 2014
Dr. James McCarthy, Professor of Biological
Oceanography, Harvard University, past President and
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and
Vulnerability” portion of IPCC report published in 2001
Dr. James Hurrell, Senior Scientist, National
Center for Atmospheric Research, contributor to IPCC
Lord Christopher Monckton, Chief Policy Adviser,
Science and Public Policy Institute
the two hours of testimony, due to time constraints,
little time was permitted for the speakers to provide
comprehensive responses to the other speaker's
presentations and written testimony. In watching
the testimony, it is painfully obvious that Lord
Monckton has radically different views than the other
distinguished scientists about the validity of global
warming and climate science, challenging much of what
the other speakers presented.
next four months a prestigious group of climate
scientists from the U.S. and Australia performed
exhaustive review, analysis and preparation of a
detailed, formal response to Lord Monckton's written
testimony. The resulting paper sent to the U.S.
Congress, issued September 21, 2010, firmly refutes all
of Lord Monckton's points. This is a clear and
powerful statement by the scientific community as to the
false and misleading information that the public is
hearing from so called "scientists" and other skeptics
who strongly denounce the human causes of global warming
and the climate science behind it. Here are the
documents and congressional testimony for your use:
1. Testimony to the
House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy
Independence and Global Warming, 5/6/2010, video, 2
Response, Press Release, 9/21/10
Response, Full Report to Congress, 9/21/10
4. On-line news
The Guardian 9/21/10
Barry Brickmore Blog 9/21/10 and read response
Apology for the Long Hiatus in New Postings to this
It has now been about 2 ˝ months since the most
recent update of this website, and those accessing it
may wonder if has become defunct. I apologize for this
long hiatus. It has been due to my heavy involvement in
a project involving Congressional testimony bearing upon
Energy and Climate Change legislation. This project is
nearing completion and thereafter I will be spending
significant time updating and improving this site.
meantime, let me draw attention to two new items just
2010 National Research
Council ReportOn the
Resources page under
Reports, Booklets and Whitepapers, you will find a
link to a new report prepared under the auspices of the
National Research Council, the research arm of the
National Academy of Sciences. "Climate
Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and
Impacts over Decades to Millennia"
was prepared by a group of 15 distinguished Climate
Scientists led by Dr. Susan Solomon. Based on the best
and most recent scientific research, the report analyzes
the impacts upon the Earth and human society for a range
of levels at which the CO2 concentration in our
atmosphere is stabilized and the associated range of the
resultant increase in global temperatures. The entire
report may be downloaded free of charge by going to
Prepublication PDFs, but the entire document is very
long. I suggest you only download the
Executive Summary, which gives a clear picture
of the conclusions of the full report.
Detailed Response by Dr. John Abraham to a speech by
Lord Christopher MoncktonChristopher Monckton
is one of the more prominent 'climate skeptics', though
he has no scientific training. This past June, numerous
assertions in a speech he gave at Bethel College,
Minnesota, in October 2009, were dissected in detail in
a convincing and entertaining way by Dr. John Abraham,
an expert in heat transfer and fluid mechanics and a
member of the faculty at St. Thomas University, also in
Minnesota. Abraham's response to Monckton has attracted
a great deal of attention. I was tempted to post it
under the Misperceptions page, but I decided instead to
provide a link under the
Resources page under Videos, since it
consists of a series of short video clips. The entire
series runs quite long, but you can view portions at
your leisure. I highly recommend it. To go directly to
the presentation, click
HERE. I suggest clicking on the little
video camera icon so you can easily scroll down the list
Have your computer's volume turned up to hear the
Member Letter "Climate Change and the Integrity of
Science" PDF Science
As those who have been following the issues of global
warming and climate change are aware, a lot of attention
has been paid to the contents of stolen email between
scientists at the East Anglia University in Great
Britain and other climate scientists. The
resulting 'Climategate' furor has featured attacks on
the integrity of not only these scientists but on the
whole community of climate scientists. In the
American Association for
the Advancement of Science May 7, 2010, issue of
250 members of the
Academy of Sciences respond to these attacks.
I am a member of the NAS (there are about 2500 of us)
and I endorse and applaud this letter fully. My
only regret is that I was not aware of its existence as
I would have been delighted to have added my name to it.
Additional links to this letter:
Science Magazine letter text /
Science Magazine letter PDF
Author Affiliations PDF
Key Points from the U.S. Climate Action Report
The Project on Climate Science
United States released a new draft report on climate
change one week before the expected unveiling of a
compromise U.S. Senate bill that aims to curb
heat-trapping greenhouse emissions. The report, a
draft of the Fifth U.S. Climate Action Report that will
be sent to the United Nations, says bluntly: "Global
warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced ...
Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years.
This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced
emissions of heat-trapping gases." Without action
to stop them, climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions
will rise over 8,000 megatonnes by mid-century, the
draft said. By adopting measures detailed in a bill
passed last year by the U.S. House of Representatives,
these emissions will drop beneath 2,000 megatonnes.
They're now about 6,500 megatonnes. The United Nations
measures greenhouse gas emissions in megatonnes, or
million metric tons. The effects of climate change
are already evident, the draft said: warming air and
oceans, vanishing mountain glaciers, thawing permafrost,
signs of instability in the ice sheets of Greenland and
Antarctica and rising sea levels. The State
Department draft, now open for public comment, precedes
the expected April 26 unveiling of Senate legislation by
Democrat John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham and
Independent Joe Lieberman. The State Department report
will ultimately go to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change; previous U.S. reports to
this body were in 1994, 1997, 2002 and 2007. The
draft report is available online at
I thank Mr.
Charlee Smith for sending me this news item.
NASA's Grace Satellites See Rapid Spread in Greenland
Ice Loss JPL
/ Univ. of Colorado
new international study finds that ice losses from
Greenland's ice sheet, which have been increasing over
the past decade in its southern region, are now
spreading rapidly up its northwest coast.
Missing 'Ice Arches' Contributed to 2007 Arctic Ice Loss JPL
2007, the Arctic lost a massive amount of thick,
multiyear sea ice, contributing to that year's
record-low extent of Arctic sea ice. A new NASA-led
study has found that the record loss that year was due
in part to the absence of "ice arches,"
naturally-forming, curved ice structures that span the
openings between two land points. These arches block sea
ice from being pushed by winds or currents through
narrow passages and out of the Arctic basin.
NASA Finds Warmer Ocean Speeding Greenland Glacier Melt
Glaciers in west Greenland are melting 100 times faster
at their end points beneath the ocean than they are at
their surfaces, according to a new NASA/university study
published online Feb. 14 in Nature Geoscience.
The results suggest this undersea
melting caused by warmer ocean waters is playing an
important, if not dominant, role in the current
evolution of Greenland's glaciers, a factor that had
previously been overlooked.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
announces the debut of its new
Services website being described as a "one stop
shop" for data, information and predictions of Earth's
climate. This wonderful new website is a plethora
of useful, informative and fascinating information.
Humans Are Warming Earth SLO New
Times article by Dr. Weymann
2009: Second Warmest Year on Record; End of Warmest
2009 was tied for the second warmest year in the modern
record, a new NASA analysis of global surface
temperature shows. The analysis, conducted by the
Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York
City, also shows that in the Southern Hemisphere, 2009
was the warmest year since modern records began in 1880.
Is Antarctica Melting?
The continent of Antarctica has been losing more
than 100 cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice per
year since 2002.
and the Survival of Tibetan Glaciers
PDF 1.6 MB
Here is a paper just published in the Proceedings of the
of Sciences dealing with how soot
influences the melting of glaciers on the Tibetan
plateau, a critical store house for fresh water for
India and China. This paper may be a bit technical for
some readers. Here is a
commentary on this paper by Dr. James Hansen
(December 2009), who is one of the authors, but not the
lead author. In fact all the other authors are
Chinese, associated with various labs within the purview
of the Chinese National Academy of Science. Dr.
Hansen is perhaps the most leading climate scientist in
the world and I think his perspective on this article is
more readable and important.
Celebration of Discovery: Earth from Space
PDF 3.4 KB
This article, in the October 2009 issue of
Coast Family News, was written by this website's webmaster,
Walt Reil, and PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey.
Not only does it illustrate the wide array of NASA
activities but it shows the local involvement of
residents of the Central Coast in promoting science
education. Lesson 4 of the Tutorials will comment
in detail on the significance of the Jason 1 & 2
satellites mentioned in the article.
Dr. Ray Weymann
Webmaster Walter Reil