NASA: 2009 Tied for Second-Warmest Year

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Parts of the northern hemisphere may have had an extremely cold December, but nevertheless, last year tied for the second-warmest in 130 years of global instrumental temperature records, according to the latest surface temperature analysis of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).  The analysis finds that global temperatures were so similar in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2009, that they are all tied for second place. In the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 set the record as the warmest year, according to this report.

James Hansen, head of NASA’s GISS, and his team have released their end-of-year summary for 2009, initially posted on the Real Climate blog.  It’s pretty dense, but here are some additional highlights:

– The scientists offer an explanation for an apparent data discrepancy over whether 1998 or 2005 was the warmest year.  In short, it comes down to the difference in the way GISS and HadCRUT (Hadley Centre/University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit) assign or do not assign temperature data for areas without observing stations.  (HadCRUT leaves them out of the analysis, while GISS assigns values based on various factors outlined in the summary.)  GISS maintains that 2005 was the warmest year.

– According to the report:

“There were strong negative temperature anomalies at middle latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, as great as ‐8°C in Siberia, averaged over the month. But the temperature anomaly in the Arctic was as great as +7°C.”

In other words, 2009’s cold December in certain areas of the planet, as well as an unusually cold 2009 summer in the United States and Canada, do not reflect overall global temperatures nor signal a cooling trend:

“It is obvious that in December 2009 there was an unusual exchange of polar and mid‐latitude air in the Northern Hemisphere. Arctic air rushed into both North America and Eurasia, and, of course, it was replaced in the polar region by air from middle latitudes. The degree to which Arctic air penetrates into middle latitudes is related to the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index, which is defined by surface atmospheric pressure patterns…”

According to GISS data, December 2009 was the most extreme negative Arctic Oscillation since the 1970s.

– The report underscores that monthly temperature anomalies tend to be greater than seasonal anomalies and that the the mean temperature of a particular month might not be the best way to identify global warming. Instead, one needs to look at measurements over the long-term, which, according to GISS data, indicate general warming over at least the last 50 years, just about everywhere on the planet.

The summary concludes with a sort of admonishment:

“The bottom line is this: there is no global cooling trend. For the time being, until humanity brings its greenhouse gas emissions under control, we can expect each decade to be warmer than the preceding one. Weather fluctuations certainly exceed local temperature changes over the past half century. But the perceptive person should be able to see that climate is warming on decadal time scales.”

  • http://ncwatch.typepad.com/ Russell Steele

    Really? I think we should we review this GISS report with same confidence that we would review a CRU report after Climategate. With lots of skepticism!

    It seems the GISS temperature readings were adjusted six times after analysis in July 1999 indicated that the temperature anomaly for 1934 was nearly 60% higher than for 1998.

    An FOIA request by Judicial Watch has landed 215 pages of GISS emails related to errors in handling temperature data from 2000 to 2006 that overstated the temperature increase during that period. You can find a searchable data base of the GISS E-mails here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/18/searchable-pdf-created-for-nasa-giss-foia-documents/

    One of the emails reveals the details of the seven different sets of numbers calculated by GISS researchers. It appears the GISS team was under pressure to make 1998 the warmest year in the 150 years that thermometer readings have been available.

    There are also questions about the adjustments the GISS makes to the data, lowering past temperatures to make current temperatures appear warmer, which I will cover in a future post

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  • Dixon Cruickshank

    OK guys this may be a bit off topic but not much based on the point Russ made – which is valid in the scientific world.
    My first post here was on your Glacier article, that it appeared west coast glaciers were acting different than the rest because they were all growing.
    I would like a comment on the new Glacier news regarding India – it appears your glaciers are not the only ones doing fine – just say’in.

    Tell you the honest truth – nobody believes any of these guys anymore, you just can’t, some new adjustment stuff every week – unless your dumber than a stump

  • http://ncwatch.typepad.com/ Russell Steele

    The report said — “In the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 set the record as the warmest year, according to this report.” Really?

    Bob Tisdale shows us that GISS is once again, “way out there” in 2009 compared to other global temperature data sets. The other data sets do not show the SH warming. Why does the GISS report show it? Details here on Tisdale’s analysis:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/01/was-2009-warmest-year-on-record-in.html

  • Dixon Cruickshank

    OT again kinda but I don’t see the polar bear thread any more – Hey bloomer you trashed that guy that hung out with them that he was nuts, how about these guys – they kinda live there. Maybe go spend a few months up there and let them show you around, just leave these peoiple alone = rent seeking carpetbagger

    http://www.tunngavik.com/2009/10/01/inuit-say-baffin-bay-polar-bear-population-is-not-decreasing/

  • Craig Miller

    I know of no credible source saying that glaciers anywhere are “doing fine.” We pointed out a few (very few) in the West that are “bucking the trend” but these are anomalies. Likewise in the Himalayas, researchers have documented that 90% of glaciers are shrinking (see Lonnie Thompson’s comments in today’s post).

  • http://ncwatch.typepad.com/ Russell Steele

    “Glaciers do not have any political agenda,” said Thompson.  “They just sum up what’s happening in the environment and they retreat or react to that en masse.”

    Yea, it is only the climate scientist with a political agenda, who are hiding their data, as we we found out in the Climategate e-mails.

    “Thompson affirmed that while it’s difficult to put a specific timetable on the disappearance of glaciers, the scientific evidence documenting glacier recession is overwhelming.  Research indicates that more than 90% of the world’s glaciers are receding, he said, including approximately 95% of the glaciers in the Himalayas.

    Yes, but the question is, are the glaciers declining because of some thing that hmans are responsible for, or because we are emerging from the Little Ice Age? Tompson has been reluctant to share his data with thired parties for validation of his findings that humans are responsible. Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit has made numerious requests for the data and has been stone walled by Thompson. Replication is the holy grail of science, so who has been able to replicate Tompson’s results. Really, was it by his friends or by an independent third party? I would really like to know, maybe KQED can find the answer?

  • http://ncwatch.typepad.com/ Russell Steele

    Last November Bob Tisdale predicted that GISS will exploit warmer temperatures and those who do not understand the reason for the warming will believe them.

    Global Temperatures This Decade Will Be The Warmest On Record…
    …And It Will Be Exploited By Those Who Fail To Understand The Reasons For The Rise Details here: http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/11/global-temperatures-this-decade-will-be.html

  • Dixon Cruickshank

    By the way – glaciers have receding for many years or we wouldn’t be having a football games in Minnasota, I have also heard upstae NY was pretty covered up too. On the point of water – if they are not melting there is no water to feed those rivers that supply all those billions over there – so we better hope they keep melting wouldn’t you say ???

    “We pointed out a few (very few) in the West that are “bucking the trend” but these are anomalies.”

    Why should it be considered an anomalie that they are growing? Could say the same thing about them retreating – which one the anomalie?

    Melting glacers are a good thing – they provide water to rivers and lakes, if their not melting we are probably close to freezing to death – just say’in

  • Steve Bloom

    But Russ, why do you believe someone like Bob Tisdale, who is after all just a retired guy with right-wing politics and no relevant scientific training or experience? Oh wait…

    Most glaciers are losing mass, Dixon, and at an increasing pace. The rare exceptions are pretty much all due to precipitation increases temporarily overcoming the melting.