2006: sixth warmest year on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:36 PM GMT on December 15, 2006

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The planet's high fever abated only slightly in 2006 compared to 2005, according to preliminary figures issued by the National Climatic Data Center on Thursday. Following the warmest year on record for the globe in 2005, the annual global temperature for 2006 is expected to be sixth warmest since record keeping began in 1880. The annual averaged global temperature was 0.52�C (+0.94�F) above normal, just 0.09�C below the record set in 2005. Very little of the globe was cooler than normal in 2006--only Siberia had temperatures more than 1� C cooler than average (Figure 1).


Figure 1. Temperature departures from normal for 2006, based on preliminary data from the National Climatic Data Center.

U.S. Temperatures
The 2006 annual average temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) will likely be 2�F (1.1�C) above the 20th Century mean, which would make 2006 the third warmest year on record. Only 1998 and 1934 were warmer than 2006. Three months in 2006 (January, April and July) were either the warmest or second warmest on record. Only September and October were cooler than average. A quick look at the jet stream pattern for the remainder of 2006, as forecast by the GFS model, reveals a continuation of the abnormal warmth we've seen over most of the U.S. this month. There will be very few regions of the country experiencing a white Christmas this year.

European temperatures
The Meteorlogical Office of England announced yesterday that 2006 was the warmest year in England since record keeping began in 1659. The years 1990 and 1999 shared the record, previously. The weather this Fall has been the warmest ever recorded over most of western Europe. One UK newspaper trumpeted the headline yesterday, "The hottest year since 1659 spells global doom". I don't agree that the hottest year ever in one small country is evidence that global doom is approaching. However, the statistics of what has happened globally the past 30 years speak volumes. Including 2006, six of the seven warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the ten warmest years have occurred since 1995. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6�C and 0.7�C (1.1 - 1.3� F) since the start of the 20th Century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the mean for the past 100 years. If the rate of warming since 1976 (Figure 2)--0.55�C in 30 years--is sustained the remainder of this century, the Earth will be a full 2�C warmer in 2100 than it was in 1990. This amount of warming would be tremendously costly to society and highly damaging to many ecosystems.


Figure 2. Temperature departures from normal for 1880-2006. Source: National Climatic Data Center.

The globe is undeniably warming at rapid rate, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if 2007 surpasses the global temperature record set in 2005, since we are entering 2007 with a moderate El Ni�o event on our hands. El Ni�o conditions add a tremendous amount of heat to the Earth's surface, and the current El Ni�o--which is expected to last at least until May--should drive up global temperatures significantly. Global doom is not at hand, but the predictions by our best climate scientists of a 1.4 to 5.8�C increase in global temperatures between 1990 and 2100 are quite believable and need to be taken seriously.

Next week, I plan to talk about the not-so-cheerful study published in Geophysical Research Letters this week titled, Future abrupt reductions in the summer Arctic sea ice. A sudden and complete disintegration of the North Polar ice cap could happen by 2040, according to some computer model calculations.

Jeff Masters

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397. pottery
7:22 PM GMT on December 18, 2006
Hello all. Skyepony, you there ?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
396. Caffinehog
1:09 PM GMT on December 18, 2006
Gulfnative,
A lot of noreasters do develop something of a warm core, since they spend a lot of time over the Gulf Stream. Only rarely do they turn truly tropical in nature. JeffMasters did a piece on that a while ago.
Member Since: June 5, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 40
394. Skyepony (Mod)
5:40 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Pottery, was looking around about what you asked about. Nowcast has a feature where you can look at SST, velosity, salinaty. but now through a 120hr forecast. These were made available last year. Late december or early jan. MichaelSTL we looked at alot of these through last winter. Something that jumped out at me glancing over it was the potentail temp at 700M, seems high. Check out all the fresh water on the salinaty graph from last weeks sudden melting of the sea ice in the NW artic. Check out Margie's blog if you hadn't seen, Steve Gregory sent along some stuff.

Here's some SST anamoly stuff.

Initally I thought maybe we can blame it on the duldrums (lack of winds)...but we can't.

I found just what your looking for for March 1, 2005, but I can't find one older to compare. Came from here.

Tangent but interesting from there was..
Colder NAO winters are therefore generally followed by increased chance of hurricanes in the eastern and southeastern U.S.
Was a warm winter last year, in a NAO pos year, easy season...repeat? We'll see.

Enough tangets, night ya'll.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36177
393. pottery
4:21 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
......I'm out. check you all tomorow. Thanks .......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
391. pottery
4:12 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
I have been measuring rainfall at my location for the following years;
1998 7"7"
99 7' 7.5''
00 7' 0 "
01 4 ' 2.5 "
02 6 ' 2 "
03 6' 2.5 "
04 6 ' 7 "
05 6' 2"
06 to date 7' 2 "
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
390. GulfNative
4:08 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Hello, This does not anything to do with you guy's topic, but if ya'll would please take a look at the link pasted in. The forecasted high pressurre camped out in the Atlantic and the jet stream positioning appear to want to spin a northeaster type storm in the gulf. What are your thoughts? Would that be a sub-tropical cyclone?

http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/links/etaslp.html
389. pottery
3:59 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Good. It will be interesting to look at those graphs in 10 years. I did not realise your snowfall was quite so sporatic though. Interesting. Thanks.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
387. pottery
3:41 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
..globally ?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
386. pottery
3:38 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Is there any consensus as to where will likely be drier and where wetter ?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
384. TayTay
3:34 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
26W's getting ripped apart and is turning into a fish storm. Good news for once.
382. pottery
3:32 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Ah. OK, I misread the dam map !
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
381. pottery
3:30 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
......but I suppose that as the atmosphere warms, more and more moisture will be suspended there. So rainfall theoreticaly should decrease?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
379. pottery
3:22 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
I mean, there is a finite amount of moisture that can be accomodated in the asmosphere, and if Europe and the US are so dry, where does it fall ???????
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
377. pottery
3:19 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Yikes STL. No snow?? But what happens later ? Evaporation continues, and if there is no precipitation in winter, do we look forward to excessive precip. later ? Surely it has to even itself out.....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
376. pottery
3:11 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Its a shame that when an entity the size of NBC does something on the weather, they dont do it properly ( I did not see it )
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
372. pottery
3:01 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
....there is no snow in Europe, and in Moscow the weather is wet and there is no ice anywhere.......the ski resorts are going bust and the Muscovites are not selling any frozen weather coats and socks. Whats up with that then ?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
369. pottery
2:54 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
they gone to check the tropical glaciers. you should read it if you have not yet.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
366. pottery
2:40 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Yeah Bappit, I had a long read of that earlier today. Pretty relevant stuff. Thanks again Patrap...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
365. pottery
2:37 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Clyclone, the scariest part of the chart is that there are people who still dont get it.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
364. bappit
2:34 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
The previous link from Patrap deserves publicity. Go here for a long discussion of tropical glaciers. Of special note, check the section where the author describes how scientific research has been misquoted and misused.

Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
361. pottery
2:22 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
well said again Bappit

Clclone, there isnt too much doubt that fire of one kind or another created the situation we now face. Thats what I mean when I refer to CO2 anyway. I'm talking burning forrest, hydrocarbons, whatever.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
360. bappit
2:19 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Good point MichaelSTL. Yep, got to be careful that facts are not mistated. Otherwise, they are spit back to you in an impoverished version of your argument.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
357. bappit
2:13 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Ramblerbob says:

the peat bogs in norhtern Canada and Russia hold more co2 that we could dream of making so I'm saying that natural elements can have a larger impact and probably do than us.

I am reminded of when Buckminster Fuller was asked when mankind would journey into space. Old Bucky replied vigorously: "We are in space!"

It is similarly incorrect to make a distinction between "us" and "nature". We are part of nature, and if we provide the kick start to thaw out all that peat you are talking about then well ... nature is as nature does.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
354. bappit
1:56 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Nice link MichaelSTL. Thanks!
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
353. Ramblerbob
1:54 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
can you get me ice core samples from millions of years ago when co2 levels were higher and then lower so we can compare? Get past the tousands of years thing and get to the millions to hundreds of millions of years and look at the amount of climate change has happened in the past. the peat bogs in norhtern Canada and Russia hold more co2 that we could dream of making so I'm saying that natural elements can have a larger impact and probably do than us. Somebody needs to find a way to check solar output before we definitely blame humans completely for global warming!
352. pottery
1:51 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
A trial plot ( 10 acres ) of an Australian acacia was introduced, with some controvesy. But that tree REQUIRES 120 deg soil to germinate its seed, and it has a continuous leaf fall all year. The trees thrived, the birds came in and dropped indigenous seed, and now there is a nice little forrest coming up. Whether the local speciecs can usurp the Aussies remains to be seen.......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23114
351. Patrap
1:50 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
MichaelSTL ..I need a favor.Contact me by WU mail..If ya got time.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125736
349. ryang
1:50 AM GMT on December 18, 2006
Please michealSTL.Help me to post links and images.Show me on my blog.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 329 Comments: 12397

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