2006: sixth warmest year on record

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

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

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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197. Patrap
2:45 PM CST on December 16, 2006
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
196. Patrap
2:44 PM CST on December 16, 2006
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195. Patrap
2:43 PM CST on December 16, 2006
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193. pottery
4:18 PM AST on December 16, 2006
ZRR , to sumarise your post, you do not agree that we have effects on climate, and the rise in temp is nothing to be concerned about, because it may even cool down again. Possible. But unlikely. In the meantime, carry on man, someone else gets to clean up after the party........
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
192. TayTay
6:43 PM GMT on December 16, 2006
There was thunder snow in the northwest last night. That was really interesting.
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191. ZRR
6:24 PM GMT on December 16, 2006
Global Warming, An Upper Midwestern Perspective

The surface record is flawed and unreliable as
the margin of eror in readings dating back to the late 1800's I'm sure are greater than
+/-0.6C with is the current anomaly. Its funny how all warm anomalies are blaimed on Global warming while cold anomalies are just that, anomalies. Just to balance things out note that Alaska experienced its 4th coldest november on record this year. And while much of europe has been above normal this fall for example large areas of below normal surface temperatures existed in the north pacific were nobody lives to complain about it. Were was global warming in 1996 when we experienced 6 straight nights with lows below -40 degrees F and almost two straight weeks of below -10 degree lows. Or January 1994 wich was our second coldest January on record second only to 1912. 1996 Was the coldest year on record according the NCDC Data for many upper midwestern cities. The northern himisphere did take a warm turn begining with the 1997 supper El Nino. What are you guys going to say when the current warm period abates and we go through another cold period, say similar to ones in the late 70's.
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190. pottery
1:57 PM AST on December 16, 2006
Justcoasting, of course Al Gore was right. Just like millions of others are right about how we affect global temperatures. Unfortunately,big business demands profit at any expense, and the destruction of the atmosphere as we know it doesnt bother Big Business too much......
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5:06 PM GMT on December 16, 2006
Looks like Al Gore Might have been right bout htis globalwarming issue
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188. BigBake
4:41 PM GMT on December 16, 2006
See there is a more realistic goal, one that has been proven, and the effects cannot be refuted. Localized polution! I do not buy into the global BS people with hidden agendas are trying to push. But we can see the polution in localized environments. Anyone who has ever lived or visited SOCAL knows the fine layer of yellowish haze that actually sticks to everything it comes into contact with. Citites need to do away with local roads. There is just no need for localized traffic any longer. I can agree that we need to strive to push for better utilization of our cities and the roadways.
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187. bappit
4:03 PM GMT on December 16, 2006
I saw all of this baloney last spring. Here is a more important number, er, approximation: 6.5 billion. That's about how many people there are. Most of those would be happy to own a bicycle. I'd go buy one, but I don't have a good place to ride it.

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186. Patrap
9:22 AM CST on December 16, 2006
Aint it foggy Outside!
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185. Patrap
9:19 AM CST on December 16, 2006
..Aint it foggy outside!..all the container trucks..their all Grounded...
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184. Patrap
9:18 AM CST on December 16, 2006
Live Video feed..More Fog..Link
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183. Patrap
9:17 AM CST on December 16, 2006
My exit Link
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182. Patrap
9:16 AM CST on December 16, 2006
All I see is FOG!
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181. HurricaneMyles
2:18 PM GMT on December 16, 2006
All I see is two big extra tropical lows that have a surface reflection.
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177. BahaHurican
6:57 AM EST on December 16, 2006
I can't believe people sat up here until 5 a. m. being bored. . . .

The Indian ocean tracks seemed pretty interesting. They don't usually get quite so many in a season, do they?

I am also interested to see what will happen in the Australian forecast areas during their summer and fall. I think El Nio increases cyclone potential along the east / north coast.

Hmmm . .. . I think I'll check and get back to u guys on that.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
175. ForecasterColby
9:34 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
Well, my site's shut down for the moment. Since it's winter and my hosting expires before next year, farewell till next Summer.
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168. V26R
6:42 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
Well if its so boring, go do something else or try and liven it up abit!

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167. V26R
6:39 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
Well off to Work I go, Its been fun
Night All
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164. V26R
6:36 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
Hey Rand, Last Three Posts were the same, time to change the graphic
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160. V26R
6:23 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
I think that the closest we've come so far in the way of Solar Powered Vehicles is the ones with both Gas Engines and Batteries. You are Right The Future holds Promise!
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158. V26R
6:18 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
But how long do the batteries last before recharging is needed? I remember seeing a documentary about a race in Australia by these guys using Solar Cars that everyone got stuck when it was really cloudy for a few days. The key point in your Pix is that they are all in bright sunshine. What would happen to the Folks in the Great White North?
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157. moonabove
6:16 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
GM killed the electric car...

and to let you know it solar power vehicles are about as much as a McLaren F1. So world wide use is about as possible as it being sunny everyday.
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154. V26R
6:14 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
Okay Buster, but what do you do when you gotta do a Milk run at midnight or its cloudy outside?
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152. moonabove
5:55 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
all i want to say is two years ago my Environmental Science teacher told out class by 2050 the ice caps could be virtually gone. Now two years later its 2040? So whats it gonna be two years later its gonna be 2009, and were gonna here 2030, then what?

I love science, but sometimes i just feel like we are constently trying to fix science.
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148. V26R
6:04 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
Im not so sure about eating 22 pounds of rice either
That could be a potential HazMat Problem
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147. V26R
6:02 AM GMT on December 16, 2006
Why waste the money on a tandem bike if you intend to just put your feet up? Seems like
a waste to me, why not just a side car?
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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