12 January 2011

NASA/NOAA: 2010 tied with 2005 as warmest year on record. (updated)

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Image from NASA GIS. 2010 is tied for the hottest year on the instrument record.

It’s now official.

In spite of the moderately strong La Nina in the Pacific, 2010 was tied for the hottest year on record. If you just look at the Northern Hemisphere, it WAS the hottest on record.

The temp. anomalies from NOAA are below.

Global Temperature anomalies from NOAA NCDC.

So, was it the hottest year in the last 1000 years?  Answering that question is a bit more difficult, but the expert on that question is Dr. Micheal Mann of Penn. State University. The temperature reconstruction below is accepted as the best available science.

Temperature reconstruction based on proxies and the instrument record.

A NASA press release has this quote from  James Hansen, the head of the Goddard Institute: “Global temperature is rising as fast in the past decade as in the prior two decades, despite year-to-year fluctuations associated with the El Niño-La Niña cycle of tropical ocean temperature.” (Hansen and colleagues reported in the Dec. 14, 2010, issue of Reviews of Geophysics.)

The NOAA press release is here.

Update: NOAA says 2010 was also the wettest year on record. No surprise considering the massive floods in the news over the last 12 months, and what is happening in Australia and Brazil today. Every meteorologist knows the capacity of the air to hold water is highly sensitive to temperature.

A one degree rise in temperature increases the capacity of air to “hold” water by about 4%. Joe Romm has an interview with Kevin Trenbirth of NCAR about this here. No, I ‘m  not blaming the flooding in Australia or Brazil on climate change specifically. However, the increase in water vapor should make severe flood events more frequent, and that is just what is being observed.

Also, on the Mann’s  et al. temp. reconstruction, the resolution is not year by year in the early part of the record. This means that there could have been individual years that were warmer than 2010. I do not want to give the wrong impression. I used that graph to show how the last few years compare with the past.

A couple of other good papers on the increasing extreme weather events: