Tag Archives: National Climatic Data Center

Earth gets hot in 2014, breaks record for average temperature

UPDATE, Jan. 20, 2015
Some people apparently are skeptical about whether 2014 was actually the warmest on record. They cite probabilities provided by government researchers to support their skepticism. But at least some skeptics seem confused about the meaning of this statistical uncertainty.

Andrew Freedman of Mashable tackles the subject in a straightforward way. But the best point in his piece comes in the final paragraph:

At the end of the day, the discussion about a single calendar year obscures the more important long-term trend of warming air temperatures, warming and acidifying oceans along with melting ice sheets, all of which are hallmarks of manmade global warming. Including 2014, 13 of the top 15 warmest years have all occurred since 2000.


Last year turns out to be the hottest year on record for the Earth’s surface, according to climate researchers who analyzed average temperatures across the globe.

The year 2014 adds yet another dramatic page to the record book, which now shows that the 10 warmest years since 1880 have occurred since the year 2000 — with the exception of the record year of 1998, which now stands as the fourth warmest on record.

The data were released this morning, with additional information provided in a telephone conference call with scientists from NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — and NASA — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The two agencies conducted independent analyses of their data, coming to the same conclusion about the record year of 2014.

Across the Earth, the average temperature in 2014 was 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit above the annual average of 57.0 degrees F, with records going back to 1880. That breaks the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.07 degrees F. It’s also the 38th consecutive year that the annual global temperature was above average.

Since 1880, the Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly driven by an increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, the researchers said. Most of the warming has come since the 1980s.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, made this comment in a prepared statement:

“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades. While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Although some skeptics have raised questions about whether global warming has been occurring in recent years, Schmidt said any short-term pause does not change the overall trend. In fact, the temperature rise seen for the past year fits perfectly onto a graph of the decades-long trend line for temperature rise.

temp graph

Ocean conditions such as El Nino or La Nina can affect temperatures year-to-year, Schmidt said. Since these phenomena can cool or warm the tropical Pacific, they probably played a role in temporarily “flattening” the long-term warming trend over the past 15 years, he added, but last year’s record-breaking temperatures occurred during a “neutral” El Nino year.

This past year was the first time since 1990 that the global heat record was broken in the absence of El Nino conditions during the year. If El Nino conditions are present at the end of 2015, the researchers said the chances are high that the record will be broken again this year.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post in Water Ways, strong regional differences were seen last year in the contiguous United States, with several western states experiencing record highs while the Midwest suffered through an abnormally cold winter. Other cold spots can be seen on the global map, but the hot spots more than balanced them out to break the heat record.

global temps

Much of the record warmth of the Earth can be attributed to record heat accumulated across the oceans. The average ocean temperature in 2014 was 1.03 degrees higher than the longterm average of 60.9 degrees, breaking previous records set in 1998 and 2003.

Record months for ocean temperatures were seen from May through November, with January through April each among the all-time top seven, while December was the third warmest December on record. The all-time monthly record was broken in June of last year, then broken again in August and again in September. Such sustained warmth in the ocean has not been seen since 1997-98 — during a strong El Nino.

On the land surface, the average temperature was 1.8 degrees higher than the long-term average of 47.3 degrees F, or the fourth highest average land temperature on record.

Europe is expected to report that 2014 was the warmest year in at least 500 years, according to information from the World Meteorological Organization. Last year surpasses the previous record set in 2007. Much of that warmth can be attributed to the second-warmest winter on record, followed by a record-warm spring.

According to the WMO report, 19 European countries have reported or are expected to report that last year was their hottest year on record. They Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Around the world, precipitation was near average for 2014, the third year that near-average precipitation was measured for land-based stations.

The 10 warmest years on record, in order:

1. 2014, 1.24 degrees above average
2 (tie). 2010, 1.17 degrees above average
2 (tie). 2005, 1.17 degrees above average
4. 1998, 1.13 degrees above average
5 (tie). 2013, 1.12 degrees above average
5 (tie). 2003, 1.12 degrees above average
7. 2002, 1.10 degrees above average
8. 2006, 1.08 degrees above average
9 (tie). 2009, 1.06 degrees above average
9 (tie). 2007, 1.06 degrees above average

For further information, check out:

Global Analysis — Annual 2014 from NOAA, and

GISS Surface Temperature Analysis from NASA.

Washington is unique for 2012 weather conditions

While much of the country suffered through record heat and extreme drought in 2012, Washington state was doing its own thing up in the corner of the map, according to an annual report from the National Climatic Data Center.

Source: National Climatic Data Center
Source: National Climatic Data Center

Across the contiguous United States, the average temperature last year was the highest ever recorded, with records going back to 1895. The yearly average of 55.3 degrees was 3.3 degrees above the 20th-Century average and 1 degree warmer than the previous high record set in 1998.

A map issued by NCDA, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows 19 states with all-time high temperatures for the year and 28 states with temperatures far above normal. Only Washington state came through the year with an average temperature “above normal,” as shown on the map.

Specifically, only 29 of the past 118 years were warmer than 2012 in this state, so conditions were by no means cool from a historical perspective. Check out historical temperature data for each state on the NCDA website.

When it came to rainfall, things were a little more mixed across the country, but again Washington — along with Oregon — stand out as anomalies, having some of the wettest conditions ever experienced.

Source: National Climatic Data Center
Source: National Climatic Data Center

Across the contiguous United States, precipitation averaged 26.57 inches, some 2.57 inches below the 20th-Century average. Overall, 2012 is considered the 15th driest year on record.

Nebraska and Wyoming broke their all-time record for lowest precipitation. Nebraska’s annual precipitation of 13.04 inches in 2012 was nearly 10 inches below average. Eight states experienced drought that placed 2012 among the ten driest years on record.

Overall, the footprint of summer drought across the midsection of the country was on par with the drought of the 1950s, in which 60 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to exceptionally dry conditions, according to the new report. As in the 1950s, farmers living in the Midwest, Plains and Mountain West states experienced severe problems, including crop failures.

On the other hand, Washington state nearly broke the record for heavy precipitation during the calendar year, according to the report. Only four out of the past 118 years were wetter. The statewide precipitation of 47.24 inches was 10.40 inches above average. For the spring season (March-May), only two years in recorded history were wetter.

Oregon also experienced precipitation well above average, with only 11 wetter years in the record book. Meanwhile, surrounding states — California, Nevada and Idaho — came in close to their annual average.

The full annual report, with lots of links to additional data, can be viewed on the page called “State of the Climate National Overview Annual 2012.”

Amusing Monday: Animations of Earth’s changes

This week, I’d like to show you some animations from space, demonstrating an interesting way to present satellite imagery and data that change over the surface of the Earth.

While these animations are in no way humorous, I am fascinated by the ability to play around with these images for a closer look at global climate change, effects of El Nino, recovery of Mount St. Helens, water-level changes in Arizona’s Lake Powell, Amazon deforestation in Western Brazil and many other time series. There’s even one showing the surface of the sun.

The decade of 1880-89 was cooler than the baseline period of 1951-1980. This is the first slide in an animation you can find in World of Change. Click to enlarge

Go to NASA’s Earth Observatory for World of Change and check out the left column, where you will see a list of 20 animations that you can run. Some give you the option of viewing the sequence from Google Earth, although some do not work well in that format. Notice that you can click on “play” in the lower right corner to observe the animation or click on any of the time periods to advance at your own pace.

Also, the narrative beneath the images explains why certain changes appear as they do. I think it is a great way to learn about these natural and made-made alterations to our environment.

As the year comes to a close, I thought this would be a good time to feature these animations. We are about to learn whether 2010 will be the warmest year on record. Preliminary results from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center should be out in January.

The decade 2000-09 was warmer than the baseline period of 1951-1980. This is the last slide in the animation in World of Change. Click to enlarge

As Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin reported in her blog, “Post Carbon,” this year is likely to be the warmest we have ever measured, barring some temperature anomaly. Despite near-blizzard conditions on the East Coast at the moment, I don’t believe the temperature will create a dent in the average temperature worldwide.

The warmest year on record is currently 2005, according to analyses by NCDC and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which produced the animations. But 1998 was close and is considered the record-holder by a collaborative group in Great Britain. Check out Tom Yulsman’s informative article in Climate Central about how these data are interpreted.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to take a look at the changes over time in Mount St. Helens, the recovery of fire-scarred Yellowstone National Park and any of the animations in World of Change that catch your interest.

Washington bucks national temperature trend for July

UPDATE, Aug. 14: The planet’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for July, breaking the previous high mark established in 1998, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center reported today. The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since world-wide records began in 1880.

For details go to the NCDC Web site.

In July, the national average temperature for the contiguous United States was below the long-term average, according to preliminary reports from the National Climatic Data Center.

Precipitation was slightly above average.

<i>July was cooler than normal in the East and warmer in the West, according to the National Climate Date Center </i><br><small>NOAA graphic</small>
July was cooler than normal in the East and warmer in the West, according to the National Climatic Date Center. (Click to enlarge)
NOAA graphic

Given Washington state’s temperatures, which were well above normal, these findings demonstrate that what happens in one region tells you nothing about overall climate change, especially over the short term.

Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania experienced their coolest July on record, according to the NCDC. Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan saw their second-coolest July on record, while Minnesota and Tennessee had their third coolest July on record.

At the other extreme, Death Valley, Calif., was at 120 degrees or higher for 22 straight days, beating the old record of 19 straight days.

For the month of July, the temperature at Sea-Tac was 4.2 degrees above average. Several areas in Washington broke the single-day record on July 29.

For the entire month, it was Washington’s ninth warmest July. It was the second-warmest July for Alaska and third-warmest for Arizona.

Precipitation was fairly close to average in most areas — including Washington state, where summers are generally dry. See precipitation map.

Globally, June 2009 was one of the hottest Junes ever

The average ocean surface temperature across the globe in June was the highest ever on record for that month, according to preliminary findings by the National Climatic Data Center, an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Combining the global land and sea temperatures, June 2009 recorded the second-highest temperature for the month going back to about 1880. The highest combined temperature on record for June came in 2005.

Terrestrial warmth was most notable in Africa, the agency reports. Considerable warmth also occurred in Siberia and in the lands around the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Cooler-than-average land locations included the U.S. Northern Plains, the Canadian Prairie Provinces, and central Asia.

For the U.S. as a whole, June temperatures and precipitation were near their normal average. Regionally, the South, Southeast and parts of the Northwest recorded above-average temperatures, while the Northeast and areas in the Southwest and North Central regions were below average.

Review the climate data for June, including regional information provided by NOAA’s regional climate centers.

If you have time, check out the many pages of The Climate of 2009. I have spent hours reviewing the data, trying to find patterns to help me understand how climate is changing by the numbers. I’ve not discovered anything new on my own, but it is interesting to see the data laid out in many different ways.

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.