October was the second-warmest month ever recorded

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released conclusions this morning showing that October probably was the second-warmest month since records began in 1880. That finding results from a combined average of land and sea temperatures across the globe.

Here’s a copy of the news release sent out this morning. Further discussion of the findings are available at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

NOAA: Second Warmest October for Global Temperatures

The combined global land and ocean surface average temperature for October 2008 was the second warmest since records began in 1880, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Temperature Highlights

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for October was 58.23 degrees F, which is 1.13 degrees F above the 20th century mean of 57.1 degrees F.

Separately, the global land surface temperature was 50.72 degrees F, which is 2.02 degrees F above the 20th century mean of 48.7 degrees F, ranking as the warmest October on record. Much of the unusual warmth occurred over Asia, Australia, and Eastern Europe.

The global ocean surface temperature of 61.41 degrees F tied October 2005 as sixth warmest on record and was 0.81 degree F above the 20th century mean of 60.6 degrees F.

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January-October was 58.25 degrees F, which is 0.85 degree above the 20th century mean of 57.4 degrees F and ranking as the 9th warmest January-October on record.

Global Highlights for October

Arctic sea ice coverage during October was at its third lowest extent since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Average ice extent during October was 3.24 million square miles, which is 9.5 percent below the 1979-2000 average. The record lowest extent for October, set in 2007, was 2.55 million square miles. Arctic sea ice extent has been declining by an average of 5.4 percent per decade over the past 30 years.

Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during October 2008 was 6.48 million square miles, which is below the 1967-2008 average and ranks as the ninth lowest October extent.

In early October, Hurricane Norbert became the most powerful 2008 hurricane in the eastern Pacific when it reached Category 4 strength. The storm weakened when it struck Mexico’s southern Baja California on October 11, but still brought heavy rain, strong winds, and widespread flooding to the islands of Santa Margarita and Magdelena. Norbert tracked across the Gulf of California and made a second landfall on October 12 on the Mexican mainland Sonora Coast.

Hurricane Omar developed in the Caribbean Sea on October 13. Omar reached Category 3 strength and was the first hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands from the west since Hurricane Lenny in 1999.

In the western Pacific, slow-moving Tropical Storm 22W brought torrential rains to parts of Southeast Asia. On October 11-14, the South China island province of Hainan suffered flash floods in low-lying areas, which forced thousands of people to flee more than 150 villages. The storm’s rains affected northern Vietnam during October 15-20, triggering flash floods that damaged more than 11,000 hectares of crops. Daily rainfall amounts of 12 to18 inches were reported from the storm.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, October 2008 was an exceptionally dry month in central and southeastern Australia, ranking as the driest October on record for South Australia, second driest for Tasmania, and third driest for Victoria. This was the second successive very dry month in these areas. Parts of Australia have been experiencing drought conditions for over a decade.

5 thoughts on “October was the second-warmest month ever recorded

  1. I placed the question with NOAA as soon as I saw it. The answer I got back this morning is that the warmest October on record, as a worldwide average, was in 2003.

  2. I think they do their cause a disservice by selectively reporting only that which seems to support their cause. Like the recent orca deaths… “Orca population down 10%!!!” (or whatever it is). If you remember, the same story could have also been reported as, “Orca Population Up 5% A Year Since 1970” (or whatever it is – I’m not going back to get the exact figures for this post). Point being, selective reporting – by a scientist, an agency, or a newspaper – serves, in the long run, to make the public cynical of their reports and – by extension – cynical of the cause. It is short-sighted. Do you remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?

  3. I couldn’t disagree more. It’s obviously crucial to report longterm trends, and provide context for short-term events, but it would be irresponsible to ignore the short-term stuff. Should the orca decline not be reported until they are all gone, simply because they might recover? Indeed, the decline of the 60s was reversed largely because of the coverage given to that decline! Moreover, the public is about to receive a huge action agenda to consider/discuss/criticize/reject/adopt/pay for, an agenda focused on Puget Sound. If orcas really are a canary in the coal mine (I don’t know if they are), then the story of their crisis seems particularly timely.
    Certainly there are times the press calls wolf. But that is hardly reason to stop reporting bad news, to stop reporting events that appear to put things in crisis. Thanks for the good work, Chris.

  4. The Boy Who Cried Wolf analogy isn’t exactly accurate. My point is that selectively reporting data that supports your cause will make the public suspicious of your pronouncements. And if they feel they are being manipulated, they will rebel by resisting the entire effort. Give the people all of the information. They are adults and can handle/understand/digest it. Treat them like children and your cause will be lost.

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