2008: Ninth warmest year on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:05 AM GMT on January 21, 2009

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The temperature statistics are in, and the year 2008 ranks as the ninth warmest year for the globe on record, making it the coolest year since 2000, according to an analysis compiled by NASA. NOAA's National Climatic Data Center rated 2008 the eighth warmest on record, and the British Climate Research Unit rated it tenth warmest. NASA noted that given the uncertainty in the measurements, a range of 7th to 10th warmest was reasonable. Global temperature records extend back to 1880. December 2008 was also the eighth warmest December for the globe on record.

The average global temperature the past five years (and the last ten years) is the highest on record. The top ten warmest years since 1880 have all occurred in the past twelve years. So, despite the impressive cold blast in the Eastern U.S. this winter, the global climate is warming. The relatively cool temperatures of 2008 probably represent a normal year-to-year fluctuation in the weather. Cool weather is to be expected globally during a strong La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, which was present during the first part of 2008 (see the cool blue colors over the Equatorial Pacific in Figure 1). It is no surprise that the last year it was cooler, 2000, was also the last time we had a La Niña event. With La Niña conditions beginning to develop again this year, I'd be surprised if 2009 turns out to be a record warm year. Dr. James Hansen of NASA is predicting a new global record temperature either this year or in 2010, though.


Figure 1. Global temperature anomalies in 2008 compared to the 1950-1980 baseline period. Below-average temperatures are shown in blue, average temperatures are white, and above-average temperatures are red. (Gray indicates no data.) Most of the world was either near normal or warmer than normal. Eastern Europe, Russia, the Arctic, and the Antarctic Peninsula were exceptionally warm (1.5 to 3.5 degrees Celsius above average). The temperature in the United States in 2008 was not much different than the 1951-1980 mean, which makes 2008 cooler than all of the previous years this decade. Large areas of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean were cooler than the long-term average, linked to a La Niña episode that began in 2007. The graph shows the long-term trend in surface temperatures since 1880. The annual average temperatures are shown in light orange, and the jaggedness of the line indicates how much the average global surface temperature varies from year to year. Because climate is so variable from year to year, it can be easier to spot long-term trends through multi-year averages. The dark red line shows the five-year running average, which is an average of five years of annual temperatures centered on a given year. Even this five-year average shows that climate has ups and downs, but the long-term increase in global average surface temperatures is obvious. The gray barbells indicate the range of uncertainty. Not surprisingly, the uncertainty is larger for older measurements than for more recent ones. Image credit: NASA.

A cool and snowy December in the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., December was the 35th coolest December, ranking it in the coldest 30% of all Decembers observed since records began in 1895. December 2008 had near-average precipitation, ranking 43rd wettest. It was the 8th wettest December on record in the East North Central U.S., and 9th wettest for the Central U.S. Only the South experienced below average precipitation during the month. For the year 2008, temperatures in the U.S. were not much different than the 1951-1980 mean, which makes 2008 the coolest year since 1997. U.S. records set in December 2008 (courtesy of http://extremeweatherguide.com/updates.asp):

Spokane, WA: All-time 24-hour snowfall, 19.4", 12/17-12/18
Spokane, WA: All-time single storm snowfall: 23.3", 12/17-12/18
Sandpoint, ID: All-time 24-hour snowfall, 27.0"
Jackson, WY: All-time 24-hour snowfall, 27.0"
Fargo, ND: Snowiest month on record: 33.5"
Spokane, WA: Snowiest month on record: 61.5"
Green Bay, WI: Snowiest month on record: 45.6"
Madison, WI: Snowiest month on record: 40.4"
Wausau, WI: Snowiest month on record: 37.6"
Idaho: All-time 24-hour state snowfall record set at Dollar Hide, 46.5", 12/26-12/27 (not confirmed)

At the end of 2008, 20% of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. This is a decline from the 28% of the U.S. that was under similar drought conditions at the end of 2007. The average precipitation for the U.S. in 2008 was 30.48 inches, which is 1.34 inches above average. 2008 was the wettest year on record for New Hampshire and Missouri, second wettest for Massachusetts, and third wettest for Connecticut, Illinois, and Iowa. Also, 2008 was the fourth wettest year for Indiana, fifth wettest for Maine, Michigan, and Vermont, seventh wettest for New York, and eighth wettest for Kansas and Rhode Island.

Next post
Check out Ricky Rood's latest blog, called Cold in the East: A rant. There is a lot of misinformation circulating in the media right now about climate change, and Ricky and I will be doing our best to try to explain what is fact and what is crap in the coming weeks. I posted one such discussion last week, when I showed that the recent claims that sea ice is back to 1979 levels were a clever bit of cherry picking of the data that hides the critical summertime loss of Arctic sea ice. I'll have a new blog post on Friday.

Jeff Masters

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278. Skyepony (Mod)
Fanele
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37868
BTW, I found Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford Series not only terrific reading (well developed quirky characters, great plots, and generally a real twist or surprise at the end), but also intriguing regarding the Florida environments and history. Very enlightening about the effect that our tinkering with the environment has had on the bio systems along the coast and in the everglades.

This morning I predicted that our temps in Charleston would reach close to 50F. I guess I will amend that downward. It is only 39F as I type.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Quoting fishinggirl:
262 and other book recommendations

I can't believe that no one has recommended - for weather related fiction - "Stormy Weather" by Carl Hiaasen!


Excellent! I read Skinny Dip and loved it. I will definitely bring Stormy Weather home to read.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
275. Skyepony (Mod)
It's amazing how you can pick at a graph & put a spin.. Gulfpoet's latest (273).. nice use of the lower trop instead of surface, then 98 is hotter than 05 & start the graph only ten years time back in the grips of the worst El Nino we ever measured (by climotoligy El Nino expect heat), don't mention in the last year we had steep La Nina (which cools), we had our 11 years sunspot min & a volcano that put out like Pinatubo (cooled some of the 70s) either. To complete the sheeps clothing does it really matter if the ocean dies back in a few decades due to dramatic acidification...check the rise on the green line. We just gonna do that indefinately?

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37868
262 and other book recommendations

I can't believe that no one has recommended - for weather related fiction - "Stormy Weather" by Carl Hiaasen!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
272. Skyepony (Mod)
Gulfpoet's graph reminded me..If we're 9th in a year with last winter's extreme La Niña, that headed back to La Niña again before it ended, can you imagine the next extreme El Niño? 1997-98 nearly burnt down FL. I fear a mean El Niño even worse now.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 164 Comments: 37868
Wow,..I never thought the Mean Graph would show a different result than the one's published Mom,..

You got wu-mail too.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128348
268. GulfPoet 9:50 AM PST on January 21, 2009
it would seem to some observers.. that the cherries hang as low lying fruit on both sides of the tree.


"I've looked at GW from both sides now, from basement losers to Docs that say Hey Now.....
It's GW's illusions I recall...
I really don't know GW....at all..."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
wow theres a really bright light shining in the sky not sure what it is havent see it in so long like 2 months
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53866
Explain the damn science and leave the adjectives and crap slinging to us amatures.

thank you.


I concur, sir!

;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Gulf....you are definitely NOT the sort I had in mind....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
I'm pretty sure the consensus would be that Masters and Rood are credible...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Liked Conroy's earlier stuff such as River is Wide. We have about two shelves of Ludlum, and I have not read the first one. Sounds like something I would enjoy doing.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
(disclaimer. 1. employed. 2. no basements in the south. 3. just a serious inquiry for explaination)

you forgot to add you don't live with your Mom...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Re: #228

Being a PhD does not guarantee that said individual will work in a responsible manner. If that person allows themselves to become caught up in political nonsense they become less dependable then that basement living individual you reference.

At least the basement resident is immediately known to be off base, while the PhD gets away with playing a charade of being responsible when they are ,in fact, lazy and willing to accept less than dependable data on which to prognosticate a popular veiepoint; which in turn inures them to the influential in their community.

Earlier someone mentioned that satellite data was 'fairly accurate' ???

Fairly accurate???

Since when is 'fairly accurate' any where near good enough when the lives of billions may hang in the balance???

Documentation and actual data records along with certification and verification of station placement is what we should expect from our blogmaster and his cohorts.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Anything less is a travesty against the truth.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Shep,

Did you see post I left in Orca's blog for you?
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29384
Quoting tkeith:
" The Scarlatti Inheritance" was my first Ludlam book, I like all his books.
Ludlum was a genius indeed...
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10084
"Cotillion, I sincerely hope that this 932 mb thing stays well north of us. The wind is picking up here in NW-Wales and it's getting quite cold in my office because of the single glazing. The metoffice.gov.uk has issued a severe weather advisory:
"There is a moderate risk of a severe weather event affecting Wales and much of England. Heavy rain, accompanied by a strong to gale force southerly wind, will move in from the west later on Wednesday and will continue into Thursday. After a brief respite, further persistent and heavy rain will spread eastwards across much of England and Wales during the afternoon and evening. Rainfall totals of 30 to 50mm are likely, especially over South Wales and southern England.

Issued at: 1040 Wed 21 Jan"

Should do.

It's gunna be pretty wet in Wales, probably more rain than last weekend coming in but much less on the wind side. Basically just a big downpour. Should have moved out by Sunday or so.

After that doesn't look tooooo bad for a week or so.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"Pillars" is one of my all time favs too! Hmmmm, weather related. I will go downstairs to my personal used bookstore and see what I can come up with.... Seems through the years I have managed to create a library!
What about Pat Conroy??? Like any of his books?
Quoting KEHCharleston:

Working in a bookstore is my idea of the best job in the world.

Great suggestion Beachfoxx. Pillars of the Earth was my favorite book years ago, was hooked from the beginning when the little boys peed on the scaffold. (Not sure I would have the concentration for it now, as I have become lazy in my reading.) Climate does play a part in Pillars in that food was scarce due to the cold conditions that had settled over Europe (I assume this was global as well). I have to say though, my most favorite Follett at the moment is another of his oldies - Night Over Water. Follett is definitely on my all time favorite authors list.

Would love to find some great reads (fiction), where weather features prominently.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29384
Quoting theshepherd:
224 KEH
Try "The Holecroft Covenant", Robert Ludlam...
" The Scarlatti Inheritance" was my first Ludlam book, I like all his books.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Beachfoxx:
KEH,

Love books, all kinds of books! Would love to work in a little book store in a small quaint town!

Try K. Follett if you like Ludlum...


Aloysius, odd, the water should have been cut off.

Working in a bookstore is my idea of the best job in the world.

Great suggestion Beachfoxx. Pillars of the Earth was my favorite book years ago, was hooked from the beginning when the little boys peed on the scaffold. (Not sure I would have the concentration for it now, as I have become lazy in my reading.) Climate does play a part in Pillars in that food was scarce due to the cold conditions that had settled over Europe (I assume this was global as well). I have to say though, my most favorite Follett at the moment is another of his oldies - Night Over Water. Follett is definitely on my all time favorite authors list.

Would love to find some great reads (fiction), where weather features prominently.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Wow... here if you go over 45 days the water is cut off. As a Realtor I have had to turn the water back on in my name on more than one occasion..... Maybe the water company should start turning the water off on unoccupied properties when its freezing cold outside!
Quoting Aloysius:
KEH - unfortunately the water is not shut off until the water bill has reached incredable amounts unless the owner requests a turn off. When the water company has to shut it off the County comes along and posts a "Condemmed" note on the door. Really adds to the scenery around here. I have the last house on this dead end block street so we try to leave enough cars and trash cans to make it look lived in. Only so much we can do.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29384
Also believe me, the water is turned off now!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
KEH - unfortunately the water is not shut off until the water bill has reached incredable amounts unless the owner requests a turn off. When the water company has to shut it off the County comes along and posts a "Condemmed" note on the door. Really adds to the scenery around here. I have the last house on this dead end block street so we try to leave enough cars and trash cans to make it look lived in. Only so much we can do.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
KEH,

Love books, all kinds of books! Would love to work in a little book store in a small quaint town!

Try K. Follett if you like Ludlum...


Aloysius, odd, the water should have been cut off.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29384
Quoting Beachfoxx:
270??
oops...make that 220. Both characters
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10084
270??
Quoting theshepherd:
270 foxx
Both...
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29384
"I am especially gonna enjoy the part where some 40 year old unemployable looser [sic] living in his mother's basement tries to convince us that two PhD's don't know what the hell they're talking about...."

Are you sure about that? I always pictured Scotty as being much older than 40.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Aloysius:
Just a note - weather has collided with economy at the house next door. The house was forclosed on and abandoned over a year ago. No one has been there since. Last nite the fire department showed up. Seems the water bubbling out of a house down the hill for at least a month is coming from frozen water pipes next door. There are three abandoned houses in a row. Don't know if the other two are heated. Very sad.

Wow - Isn't the water cut off when a house is abandoned?? Or I am not understanding what you said
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
240. presslord 8:23 AM PST on January 21, 2009

KEH And NRAmy.....bourbon....in liberal quantities....is the answer


yeah, but I'm not sick!

;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
KEH And NRAmy.....bourbon....in liberal quantities....is the answer....

:)
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Just a note - weather has collided with economy at the house next door. The house was forclosed on and abandoned over a year ago. No one has been there since. Last nite the fire department showed up. Seems the water bubbling out of a house down the hill for at least a month is coming from frozen water pipes next door. There are three abandoned houses in a row. Don't know if the other two are heated. Very sad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
KEH And NRAmy.....bourbon....in liberal quantities....is the answer....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Quoting KEHCharleston:


Thanks, I am writing these down.
LOL...and remember, every good book is a short read if you take it one chapter at a time ;>)
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10084
Quoting presslord:
KEH....Are you working today? I wanna come by and say "Howdy!"

No - still home sick. Doing the old rest and fluids bit, but if I am not considerably better by this evening will see what the doctor has to offer tomorrow.
Would love for you to come by. Hope to be back to work either tomorrow (4-8) or Friday (12-8). The way I feel today, tomorrow is doubtful, but really need to get back to work. Will look to see if we have any Captain Underpants in the store.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Quoting theshepherd:
224 KEH
Try "The Holecroft Covenant", Robert Ludlam...


Thanks, I am writing these down.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
Capt Underpants rocks....I have all of his books...and he is currently perched on top of my computer....

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
KEH....Are you working today? I wanna come by and say "Howdy!"
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490
Quoting NRAamy:
I am home with a cold/flu for the third day now, and I appreciate y'all keeping me amused.
I did not bring home enough of those quick reads


go to Amazon.com.....order "Captain Underpants"....trust me....

I love Captain Underpants. Work in a used book store, and I can tell you that Captain Underpants does not stay in the shop long.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
224 KEH
Try "The Holecroft Covenant", Robert Ludlam...
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10084
Actually , I appreciate that Gulfpoet. I do not have to venture out to acquire some reading material. For those of you who also did not realize, you can go to GulfPoet's Blog and it is there as an ebook. (Nothing shameless about promoting your hard work)
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
270 foxx
Both...
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10084
I am especially gonna enjoy the part where some 40 year old unemployable looser living in his mother's basement tries to convince us that two PhD's don't know what the hell they're talking about....

Peachtree isn't on here anymore....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"Ricky and I will be doing our best to try to explain what is fact and what is crap in the coming weeks."

strong language coming from the good Doctor, there...I really look forward to reading what these two have to say...

I am especially gonna enjoy the part where some 40 year old unemployable looser living in his mother's basement tries to convince us that two PhD's don't know what the hell they're talking about....

seriously....that'll be fun....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10490

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.