So, 2010 is a statistical tie for warmest year on record. This from NASA’s GISS and NOAA’s NCDC. Some AGW refuseniks might cling to the fact that the year just past was 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than 2005, but then you’d know they never bothered to take a stats class. As the GISS press release puts it:
The record temperature in 2010 is particularly noteworthy, because the last half of the year was marked by a transition to strong La Niña conditions, which bring cool sea surface temperatures to the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
We’ve also just come out of an unusually long “solar minimum,” during which sunspot activity has been next to nil, a condition that otherwise could be expected to depress temperature on Earth.
[Graphic from a New York Times story.]
The interesting thing to me is that this is just what GISS chief James Hansen and many others have been predicting for pretty much the entire year, suggesting that our understanding of the global climate system continues to improve.
The latest prognostication from the usual suspects involves the assumption that a return of the warmer, El Niño counterpart of the same cycle, and the possible return of a more active sun, will help make 2011 warmer still.
The annual report from the other side of the Atlantic isn’t out yet, although there’s a good chance it won’t put 2010 quite at the top of the list, because it excludes much of the northernmost reaches of the Arctic due to a lack of observations. NASA, by comparison extrapolates from the most northerly stations that do supply temperature data. And this year it was the Arctic’s unseasonable warmth that helped make 2010 as hot as it was. In the Southern Hemisphere, for example, 2010 was only the sixth warmest, and the global ocean temperature managed to reach third place.
Regardless with what the Brits report, it has now been 34 years in a row that the global temperature has been warmer than the 20th century average.