Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I Knew 2015 Was Going To Be The Hottest On Record, But WOW!

2015 was warmer than average in most places on
Earth, except northeastern Canada and the central North
Atlantic Ocean. 
To nobody's surprise, the year 2015 was the world's hottest on record, says NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.

The surprise, though, is by how wide a margin the record was broken, and how many heat records for Earth have been piling up over the past many months and several years.

Here are some of the highlights in the report, issued today:   

--- The year 2015 was 1.62 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. That beats the old record by 0.29 degrees, the widest margin for any year to break a new mark for heat.

Breaking a record by about a third of a degree doesn't sound like much, but when averaged over the entire globe, it's a lot.

By the way, the old record for hottest year on Earth in modern records was set way back in 2014. Yep, a little over a year ago.

--- 2015 marked the fourth time this century that the Earth broke a record for heat. There are a few climate change deniers that are still clinging to the myth that global warming peaked in 1998, but 1998 has now been relegated to a tie for 6th hottest on record, behind 2015, 2014, 2010, 2013, 2005 in that order.

Also, some people who say global warming doesn't exist say graphs show a leveling off of global warming starting in 1998. But that "pause" really didn't exist, if you look at the recent yearly heat records. And if you add 2014 and 2015 to the graph, you see global temperatures still trending up, up, up, up.

--- Ten months in 2015 were the hottest on record. Five of those months broke the record for heat by the widest margin observed in modern recofds.

--- The latest NOAA report also included the analysis for December, 2015, which - surprise! -- was the hottest on records in data that dates back to 1880. December broke the previous record for the hottest 12th month by a whopping full 2 degrees.

A monthly global departure of two degrees above normal has never been observed in modern records until now.

By the way, December was also the hottest on record in the United States as a whole, and was the hottest on record where I live in Vermont by a huge margin.

It's interesting that there's a persistent cold patch in the North Atlantic Ocean that has showed up consistently for months or even years now. Many scientists suspect that melting ice from Greenland is affecting ocean currents, leading to that cold spot in the Atlantic.

Which means even a cold statistic is troubling in the age of global warming.

Obviously, 2015 got a boost in temperature from El Nino, which tends to raise global heat, especially when you get a strong one like the current El Nino now under way.

Still, when you break records by margins like this, something other than El Nino is going on, and I can't think of anything other than global warming, despite what the skeptics say.

When El Nino fades, we'll likely have some years that are not the hottest on record. I'd say 2016 might or might not be as hot as 2015, and my inkling is 2017 will be cooler than 2015, as El Nino will certainly have faded by then. But then again, I've been surprised before

Regardless, unless somebody can show convincing evidence to the contrary, I would also bet there will be years not that far beyond 2017 that will be even hotter than the sweaty 2015 was.

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