The past five years have been the warmest on record

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA say that 2018 was 4th hottest year on record for the globe, just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest). A super optimist might claim that there is a slight cooling trend since 2016, but this suggests that predictions of global warming had some credence.

20 of the last 22 years have been the warmest on record.

In separate analyses of global temperatures, scientists from NASA, the United Kingdom Met Office and the World Meteorological Organizationoffsite link also reached the same heat ranking.

And other news recently provide examples of other climate concerns.

Stuff: ‘Dangerous’ Antarctic glacier has massive hole, scientists warn

A large cavity has formed under what has been described as one of the world’s most dangerous glaciers, and could contribute to a significant bump in global sea levels, said Nasa scientists.

A study led by the agency revealed a cavity about two-thirds the area of Manhattan and roughly 304 metres tall is growing under Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica.

The cavity is large enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, most of which has melted within the last three years, say researchers.

The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances.

Thwaites has been described as one of the world’s most dangerous glaciers because its demise could lead to rapid changes in global sea levels.

JPL said the glacier, about the size of Florida, holds enough ice to raise ocean levels another 60 centimetres if it completely melts.

It also backstops other glaciers capable to raising sea levels another 2.4m.

Until recently Antarctica was thought to be bucking warming trends, but new research appears to be uncovering more melt than had been realised.

Reuters:  Norway’s Arctic islands at risk of ‘devastating’ warming: report

Icy Arctic islands north of Norway are warming faster than almost anywhere on Earth and more avalanches, rain and mud may cause “devastating” changes by 2100, a Norwegian report said on Monday.

Icy Arctic islands north of Norway are warming faster than almost anywhere on Earth and more avalanches, rain and mud may cause “devastating” changes by 2100, a Norwegian report said on Monday.

Many other parts of the Arctic, especially its islands, are also warming far quicker than the world average as the retreat of snow and sea ice exposes darker water and ground that soaks up ever more of the sun’s heat.

LiveScience: The Greenland Ice Sheet Is Melting at Astonishing Rate

Last week, a cauldron of concerning news articles made two things very clear: The ocean is warming and Antarctica’s ice is melting.

Now, a new study shows how much global warming is pounding another area: Greenland.

Greenland’s ice sheet is not only melting, but it’s melting faster than ever because the area has become more sensitive to natural climate fluctuations, particularly an atmospheric cycle, a group of scientists reported today (Jan. 21) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers found that the ice is vanishing four times faster than it was in 2003 — and a good chunk of that acceleration is happening in southwest Greenland.

RNZ:  2018 was NZ’s warmest year on record – climate scientist

Veteran climate scientist Jim Salinger has calculated the mean annual land surface temperature in 2018 was 13.5 degrees Celsius, which was 0.85C above the 1981-2010 average.

This was “a smidgeon” hotter than the previous warmest year on record, 2016, which was 0.84C above normal.

‘Human-caused climate change is transforming the Arctic’

The Arctic is experiencing a period of unparalleled warmth “that is unlike any period on record,” according to the 2018 Arctic Report Card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States Department of Commerce).

According to the report  human-caused climate change is transforming the Arctic, both physically through the reduction of sea ice, and biologically through reductions in wildlife populations and introduction of marine toxins and algae.

– Arctic Report Card: Update for 2018 – Tracking recent environmental changes, with 14 essays prepared by an international team of 81 scientists from 12 different countries and an independent peer-review organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council.

Temperatures in the Arctic are warming more than twice as fast as the overall planet’s average temperature, with temperatures this year in the highest latitudes (above 60 degrees north) coming in 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981-2010 average. These were the second warmest (behind 2016) air temperatures ever recorded during the Arctic year, which runs from October through September to avoid splitting the winter season.

The five years since 2014 have been warmer than any other years in the historical record, which goes back to 1900. Although Arctic temperatures have been subject to wild swings back and forth through the decades due to natural variability, they have been consistently warmer than average since 2000 and at or near record since 2014, the report states.

“The changes we are witnessing in the Arctic are sufficiently rapid that they cannot be explained without considering our impacts on the chemistry of the atmosphere,” Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia who authored part of the report, told CNN in an email.

The report is yet another study from part of the US government indicating that climate change is real and having a profound impact, despite denials from the President and senior members of his Administration.

 2018 Arctic Report Card peer-reviewed report

The cost of US hurricanes

The cost of US hurricanes can be huge. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information) estimates the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey at about $180 billion. Some comparisons:

  • Harvey (2017) $180B
  • Katrina (2005) 160B
  • Sandy (2012) $70B
  • Andrew (1992) $48B
  • Ike (2008) $35B

Of course inflation, increased population and increased industrialisation need to be taken into account. And this is just the US costs, hurricanes ending up hitting the US coast have often already wreaked havoc in the Carribean.

And the cost of Harvey is yet to be determined accurately. Five days ago an estimate was $108 billion – see Harvey is likely to be the second-most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.

And there’s more bad news – Hurricane Irma is growing in strength and heading for Florida, passing by a number of Caribbean islands on the way.

Independent:  Hurricane Irma has become so strong it’s showing up as an earthquake on seismometers

Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have declared a state of emergency

irma-5-sept.jpg

Washington Post: Catastrophic Hurricane Irma — now a Cat 5 — is on a collision course with Florida

Hurricane Irma is an “extremely dangerous” Category 5, barreling toward the northern Lesser Antilles and Southern Florida. It’s already the strongest hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s likely to make landfall somewhere in Florida over the weekend.

If it does, the impact could be catastrophic.

The storm is life-threatening for the United States, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas. Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. A hurricane watch is in effect for Hispaniola and southeastern Bahamas.

With maximum winds of 185 mph, Irma is tied for the second strongest storm ever observed in the Atlantic. And in its Tuesday morning discussion, the National Hurricane Center said the storm is in an environment “ideal for some additional intensification.”

And inevitably these hurricanes raise a bigger storm, climate change debate.

As Irma looms, Harvey makes climate change clearly visible.

Hurricane Harvey is the biggest rain event in the nation’s history and could turn out to be one of the most destructive storms ever. Thousands of people are out of their homes, the death toll has been climbing, and people are still being rescued. The magnitude of Harvey shows the impact of climate change.

The Gulf of Mexico has increased in temperature because the planet is getting warmer, which made the storm catastrophic. Harvey is the symbol of what climate change impacts look like.

Harvey brewed in the Gulf of Mexico, but Irma is coming in off the Atlantic Ocean.

From WaPo six months ago: Gulf of Mexico waters are freakishly warm, which could mean explosive springtime storms

Water temperatures at the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and near South Florida are on fire. They spurred a historically warm winter from Houston to Miami and could fuel intense thunderstorms in the spring from the South to the Plains.

In the Gulf, the average sea surface temperature never fell below 73 degrees over the winter for the first time on record, reported Eric Berger of Ars Technica.

Galveston, Tex., has tied or broken an astonishing 33 record highs since Nov. 1, while neighboring Houston had its warmest winter on record.

The abnormally warm temperatures curled around the Gulf, helping Baton Rouge and New Orleans reach their warmest Februaries on record.

Meanwhile, a ribbon of toasty sea surface temperatures streamed north through the Straits of Florida supporting record-setting warmth over parts of the Florida peninsula.

The warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular, could mean that thunderstorms that erupt over the southern and central United States are more severe this spring. Berger explained in his Ars Technica piece: “While the relationship is far from absolute, scientists have found that when the Gulf of Mexico tends to be warmer than normal, there is more energy for severe storms and tornadoes to form than when the Gulf is cooler.”

The implications of the warm water for hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, are less clear.

The implications seem to be more clear now.

Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a report on Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States.

This includes a revised extreme level of rise of 2.5 meters by 2100, 0.5 more than used at Paris in 2012.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Hazard Scenarios and Tools Interagency Task Force, jointly convened by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the National Ocean Council (NOC), began its work in August 2015. The Task Force has focused its efforts on three primary tasks:

1) updating scenarios of global mean sea level (GMSL) rise,

2) integrating the global scenarios with regional factors contributing to sea level change for the entire U.S. coastline, and

3) incorporating these regionally appropriate scenarios within coastal risk management tools and capabilities deployed by individual agencies in support of the needs of specific stakeholder groups and user communities.

This technical report focuses on the first two of these tasks and reports on the production of gridded relative sea level (RSL, which includes both ocean-level change and vertical land motion) projections for the United States associated with an updated set of GMSL scenarios.

In addition to supporting the longer-term Task Force effort, this new product will be an important input into the USGCRP Sustained Assessment process and upcoming Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) due in 2018.

This report also serves as a key technical input into the in-progress USGCRP Climate Science Special Report (CSSR). In order to bound the set of GMSL rise scenarios for year 2100, we assessed the most up-to-date scientific literature on scientifically supported upper-end GMSL projections, including recent observational and modeling literature related to the potential for rapid ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica.

The projections and results presented in several peer-reviewed publications provide evidence to support a physically plausible GMSL rise in the range of 2.0 meters (m) to 2.7 m, and recent results regarding Antarctic icesheet instability indicate that such outcomes may be more likely than previously thought.

To ensure consistency with these recent updates to the peer-reviewed scientific literature, we recommend a revised ‘extreme’ upper-bound scenario for GMSL rise of 2.5 m by the year 2100, which is 0.5 m higher than the upper bound scenario from Parris et al. (2012) employed by the Third NCA (NCA3).

In addition, after consideration of tide gauge and altimeter-based estimates of the rates of GMSL change over the past quarter-century and of recent modeling of future low-end projections of GMSL rise, we revise Parris et al. (2012)’s estimate of the lower bound upward by 0.1 m to 0.3 m by the year 2100.

This report articulates the linkages between scenario-based and probabilistic projections of future sea levels for coastal-risk planning, management of long-lived critical infrastructure, mission readiness, and other purposes. The probabilistic projections discussed in this report recognize the inherent dependency (conditionality) of future GMSL rise on future greenhouse-gas emissions and associated ocean-atmosphere warming.

In recognition of the different time horizons of relevance to different decision contexts, as well as the long-term GMSL rise commitment (lagged GMSL response) from on-going increases in oceanatmosphere warming, GMSL rise and associated RSL change are quantified from the year 2000 through the year 2200 (on a decadal basis to 2100 and with lower temporal frequency between 2100 and 2200).

The 0.3 m-2.5 m GMSL range for 2100 is discretized by 0.5-m increments and aligned with emissionsbased, conditional probabilistic storylines and global model projections into six GMSL rise scenarios: a Low, Intermediate-Low, Intermediate, Intermediate-High, High and Extreme, which correspond to GMSL rise of 0.3 m, 0.5 m, 1.0 m, 1.5 m, 2.0 m and 2.5 m, respectively.

These GMSL rise scenarios are used to derive regional RSL responses on a 1-degree grid covering the coastlines of the U.S. mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Pacific island territories, as well as at the precise locations of tide gauges along these coastlines.

These scenario-based RSL values fill a major gap in climate information needed to vii support a wide range of assessment, planning, and decision-making processes.

GMSL was adjusted to account for key factors important at regional scales, including:

1) shifts in oceanographic factors such as circulation patterns;

2) changes in the Earth’s gravitational field and rotation, and the flexure of the crust and upper mantle, due to melting of land-based ice; and

3) vertical land movement (VLM; subsidence or uplift) due to glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA, which also changes Earth’s gravitational field and rotation, as well as the overall shape of the ocean basin), sediment compaction, groundwater and fossil fuel withdrawals, and other nonclimatic factors.

Key findings include:

● Along regions of the Northeast Atlantic (Virginia coast and northward) and the western Gulf of Mexico coasts, RSL rise is projected to be greater than the global average for almost all future GMSL rise scenarios (e.g., 0.3-0.5 m or more RSL rise by the year 2100 than GMSL rise under the Intermediate scenario).

● Along much of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska coasts, RSL is projected to be less than the global average under the Low-to-Intermediate scenarios (e.g., 0.1-1 m or less RSL rise by the year 2100 than GMSL rise under the Intermediate scenario).

● Along almost all U.S. coasts outside Alaska, RSL is projected to be higher than the global average under the Intermediate-High, High and Extreme scenarios (e.g., 0.3-1 m or more RSL rise by the year 2100 than GMSL rise under the High scenario).

Finally, the consequences of rising RSL are presented in terms of how the frequency of moderate-level flooding associated with a NOAA coastal/lakeshore flood warning of a serious risk to life and property may change in the future under the sea level scenarios.

The elevation threshold used to classify such events by NOAA on their tide gauges varies along the U.S. coastline, but in general it is about 0.8 m (2.6 feet) above the highest average tide and locally has a 20% annual chance of occurrence.

For example, using the flood-frequency definition, we find at most locations examined (90 cities along the U.S. coastline outside of Alaska) that with only about 0.35 m (<14 inches) of local RSL rise, annual frequencies of such disruptive/damaging flooding will increase 25-fold by or about (±5 years) 2080, 2060, 2040 and 2030 under the Low, Intermediate-Low, Intermediate and Intermediate High subset of scenarios, respectively.

https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/techrpt83_Global_and_Regional_SLR_Scenarios_for_the_US_final.pdf

Arctic Report Card 2016

NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have released their 2016 Arctic Report Card, and it isn’t flash.

Persistent warming trend and loss of sea ice are triggering extensive Arctic changes.

Observations in 2016 showed a continuation of long-term Arctic warming trends which reveals the interdependency of physical and biological Arctic systems, contributing to a growing recognition that the Arctic is an integral part of the globe, and increasing the need for comprehensive communication of Arctic change to diverse user audiences.

Highlights

  • The average surface air temperature for the year ending September 2016 is by far the highest since 1900, and new monthly record highs were recorded for January, February, October and November 2016.
  • After only modest changes from 2013-2015, minimum sea ice extent at the end of summer 2016 tied with 2007 for the second lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1979.
  • Spring snow cover extent in the North American Arctic was the lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1967.
  • In 37 years of Greenland ice sheet observations, only one year had earlier onset of spring melting than 2016.
  • The Arctic Ocean is especially prone to ocean acidification, due to water temperatures that are colder than those further south.  The short Arctic food chain leaves Arctic marine ecosystems vulnerable to ocean acidification events.
  • Thawing permafrost releases carbon into the atmosphere, whereas greening tundra absorbs atmospheric carbon.  Overall, tundra is presently releasing net carbon into the atmosphere.
  • Small Arctic mammals, such as shrews, and their parasites, serve as indicators for present and historical environmental variability. Newly acquired parasites indicate northward shifts of sub-Arctic species and increases in Arctic biodiversity.

2015 warmest year on record

NASA and NOAA have announced that 2015 was the warmest year on record, clearly ahead of the previous record year, 2014.

NASA illustration showing 2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880.

It can be seen from the graphic that the most warming is in the northern hemisphere, especially in the Arctic.

Radio NZ: Last year was hottest on record globally – NASA

Data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that in 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.90°C above the 20th century average, surpassing 2014’s previous record by 0.16 degrees.

During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.

This was the fourth time a global temperature record had been set this century, the agencies said in a summary of their annual report.

“2015 was remarkable even in the context of the larger, long-term warming trend,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The sharp increase in 2015 was driven in part by El Nino, a natural weather cycle in the Pacific that warms the ocean surface every two to seven years. But scientists say human activities – notably burning fossil fuels – were the main driver behind the rise.

“We would not have seen the record warming without the long-term trend,” said Mr Schmidt.

  • During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century. This is also the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken. Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year. The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015.

All the warmest years since1880 have been since 1998.

A summary of the NOAA climate data here.

Sixteen Warmest Years (1880–2015)

The following table lists the global combined land and ocean annually-averaged temperature rank and anomaly for each of the 16 (two tied at #15) warmest years on record.

RANK 
1 = WARMEST 
PERIOD OF RECORD: 1880–2015
YEAR ANOMALY °C ANOMALY °F
1 2015 0.90 1.62
2 2014 0.74 1.33
3 2010 0.70 1.26
4 2013 0.66 1.19
5 2005 0.65 1.17
6 (tie) 1998 0.63 1.13
6 (tie) 2009 0.63 1.13
8 2012 0.62 1.12
9 (tie) 2003 0.61 1.10
9 (tie) 2006 0.61 1.10
9 (tie) 2007 0.61 1.10
12 2002 0.60 1.08
13 (tie) 2004 0.57 1.03
13 (tie) 2011 0.57 1.03
15 (tie) 2001 0.54 0.97
15 (tie) 2008 0.54 0.97

Much of the record warmth for the globe can be attributed to record warmth in the global oceans.

Global Analysis – Annual 2015

 

The hottest start to a year on record

NOAA, NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency agree that the past three months have been the hottest start to a year.

There’s plenty to debate about climate change, what to do, if anything can be done and how to deal with possible effects. And there will be debate for decades.

But there seems little doubt that at the moment data is fitting warming predictions.

Bloomberg Business reports:

March was the hottest month on record, and the past three months were the warmest start to a year on record, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s a continuation of trends that made 2014 the most blistering year for the surface of the planet, in to records going back to 1880.

Results from the world’s top monitoring agencies vary slightly. NOAA and the Japan Meteorological Agency both had March as the hottest month on record. NASA had it as the third-hottest. All three agencies agree that the past three months have been the hottest start to a year.

The heat was experienced differently across the world. People in the U.S. and Canadian Northeast had an unusually cool March. But vast swaths of unusually warm weather covered much of the globe, and records were broken from California to Australia.

Source: NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center

Cause for concern.

Bloomberg: Global Temperature Records Just Got Crushed Again

Climate of concern

2014 hottest year recorded on Earth – US climate analyses

Last year was Earth’s warmest on record, bolstering the argument that people are altering the planet’s climate by relentlessly burning fuels that belch greenhouse gases into the air.

Separate studies by the US space agency Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed that the 10 warmest years on record have taken place since 1997.

NOAA said 2014 averaged 14.6 Celsius, 0.69C above the 20th-century average.

But Nasa, which calculates temperatures slightly differently, put 2014’s average temperature at 14.7C, which is 0.67C above their average, which they calculate for 1951-1980.

Earth broke NOAA records set in 2010 and 2005. The last time the Earth set an annual NOAA cold record was in 1911.

NOAA also said last month was the hottest December on record. Six months last year set marks for heat.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/science/65142359/2014-hottest-year-recorded-on-earth–us-climate-analyses

NOAA National Climatic Data Center: Global Analysis – December 2014

The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January–December 2014 was the highest on record among all years in the 135-year period of record, at 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/12

It was the fifth warmest year in the southern hemisphere but the warmest in the northern hemisphere and overall the warmest.

Real. Cause for concern.

More: Global warming made 2014 a record hot year – in animated graphics

What’s really remarkable is that 2014 set this record without the aid of an El Niño event. El Niño events create conditions in which sea surface and hence global surface temperatures are anomalously hot. We call this part of the Earth’s “internal variability” because these events just temporarily shift heat around between the ocean surface and its depths. 

As this graphic shows (click here for an animated version), the last five record hot years of 2010, 2005, 1998, 1997, and 1995 were all assisted by El Niño events. 

NASA global surface temperature data (1966–2014) divided into La Niña years (blue), ENSO neutral years (black), and El Niño years (red), with linear trends displayed for each.  Years influenced by major volcanic eruptions (orange) are excluded from the trend analysis.
 NASA global surface temperature data (1966–2014) divided into La Niña years (blue), ENSO neutral years (black), and El Niño years (red), with linear trends displayed for each. Years influenced by major volcanic eruptions (orange) are excluded from the trend analysis. Created by Dana Nuccitelli.

In contrast, 2014 had a slight cooling influence from La Niña-like conditions at the beginning of the year, a slight warming influence from El Niño-like conditions toward the end, and no net temperature influence from the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) for the year as a whole. 2014 was by far the hottest ENSO-neutral year on record, and the first year since 1990 to set a record without influence from El Niño.

This is all happening during a time when we’re constantly being bombarded with inaccurate claims of a global warming “pause.” These mistaken claims stem from the fact that the rate of global surface warming has slowed a bit over the past 15 years, in large part because we’ve seen more La Niña events and fewer El Niño events during that time, and also due to heightened volcanic activity.

In fact, at any point over the past five decades we can find a period during which global surface warming “paused.” Yet each such period was hotter than the last. That’s because each is just a temporary effect caused by a period with a predominance of La Niña events and other short-term cooling temperature influences.

If there’s El Niño this year it could keep going up.

It’s been almost thirty years since the world had a lower than average temperature.

Warmer world in November

The National Climatic Data Center reports on the State of the Climate for November.

November 2013 global temperature highest on record

Year-to-date global temperature ties for fourth highest on record

The globally-averaged temperature for November 2013 was the highest for November since record keeping began in 1880. November 2013 also marks the 37th consecutive November and 345th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.

This map shows that some parts of the world were cooler than average but far more were warmer than average with some areas having record highs.

New Zealand was “much warmer than average”. Ironically parts of Australia were cooler than average, they look to be ending the year very warm.

This is at the same time that solar activity is reducing, but probably not enough to offset local warming effects – Sun activity is in free fall, but you shouldn’t expect a new little ice age

“Solar activity is declining very fast at the moment,” Mike Lockwood, a professor of space environmental physics at Britain’s Reading University, said, “we estimate faster than at any time in the last 9,300 years.”
Lockwood and colleagues are reassessing the chances of this decline’s becoming the first “grand solar minimum” in four centuries. During a grand minimum, the normal 11-year solar cycle is suppressed and the sun has virtually no sunspots for several decades. This summer should have seen an increase in the number of sunspots, but it didn’t happen.

The extent to which solar cycles influence global temperatures is still debated, as is the question of whether the recent decline has helped cause the current hiatus in the pace of global warming.

“Mike is probably right that there is a chance of the sun returning to a level of activity similar to the Maunder Minimum,” says atmospheric physicist Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London. But she adds: “Even under the most optimistic scenario [of minimal global warming and a deep solar minimum] the solar cooling would only just offset greenhouse gas warming. So no ice age.”

It is more likely that it will simply reduce the warming a little, and set us up for greater warming if it receded.

Climate debate is certain to continue.