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2007: Fifth warmest year on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:47 PM GMT on January 17, 2008

The data is in, and 2007 finished as the 5th warmest year on record for the globe, according to figures released by the National Climatic Data Center. For land areas only, 2007 ranked as the warmest year on record. For the oceans, 2007 was the ninth warmest year on record. La Niña continued to strengthen at the end of the year, creating ocean surface temperatures in large areas of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific more than -3°F (-1.7°C) below average. The rapid decay of the El Niño event that rang in 2007 and subsequent development of a moderate La Niña event caused the failure of the forecast issued by the United Kingdom Meteorological Office on January 4 of 2007, predicting a a 60% chance that 2007 would be the warmest year on record. The forecasters cited the combined influence of the continuing global warming trend, and the presence of a moderate El Niño event.

Figure 1. Global temperatures (land plus ocean) for 1880-2007. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center.

The warmest years on record globally were 2005 and 1998, when the global average temperatures were 1.08°F and 1.04°F higher than the long-term average of 57°F. The 2007 temperature was .99°F above average. Seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, part of a rise in temperatures of more than 1°F (0.6°C) since 1900. Within the past three decades, the rate of warming in global temperatures has been approximately three times greater than the century scale trend. All ten of the top ten warmest years for the globe have occurred since 1995. The global temperature record goes back to 1880.

Tenth warmest year on record for the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., 2007 was the tenth warmest year on record. U.S. weather records go back to 1895. Six of the 10 warmest years on record for the contiguous U.S. have occurred since 1998, part of a three decade period in which mean temperatures for the contiguous U.S. have risen at a rate near 0.6°F per decade.

Figure 2. U.S. temperatures for 1895-2007. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center.

Arctic sea ice remains near record low levels
December 2007 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was the second lowest on record for the month of December, 13% below its extent in 1979 when satellite measurements began, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. December was the second straight month that a new monthly minimum Arctic sea ice record was not set, following a string of five months in a row where monthly records were set. However, the December 2007 sea ice extent was very close to the record low extent set in 2006, and the ice is much thinner than it was in 2006. This will likely cause a very early melting season and a probable return to record lows by April.

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.

Reader Comments

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11:06 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
I saw a tornado watch, & some severe thunderstorm warnings, but I did not yet see a tornado warning. Anybody see one in Florida?
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132. TampaSpin
10:55 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Hello everyone. Hi JP and Nash
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131. TampaSpin
10:54 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
I am getting hammered bad in Tampa in the Town and Country/ West Chase area.
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130. nash28
10:45 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Tampa area is getting hammered. Tornado warnings everywhere. I am still dry, but that is about to change...
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10:16 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
...Real-time mesoscale analyses from NWS Melbourne, Florida...

Workin' & watchin'
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126. nash28
10:09 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Those of you in the Jacksonville area need to take cover! Dangerous lighting and winds of 70mph are over you now. Stay safe!!!
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124. nash28
9:07 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Guys- This squall line is strengthening and it looks like it means business! Many times, these things begin to lose some punch as they near shore, but this one has a TON of fuel to work with!

Be alert! Tampa Bay will get rocked pretty hard this evening.
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122. CybrTeddy
8:58 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Wow, Holy dog Crud! Im about to get Slammed by Tornados and Sever Thunderstorms! I have Tornado Watches up and Sever Thunderstrom Watches!
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121. FLWeatherFreak91
3:57 PM EST on January 19, 2008
WOW! This squall nearing Fl looks insane.
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120. FLWeatherFreak91
3:56 PM EST on January 19, 2008
thanks stillwaiting
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119. stillwaiting
8:00 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
FLWF91..The air will be cold and dry behind the front the chance of ice from residual moisture is unlikely due to evaporation via the dry air but you might still have a couple puddles that could freeze at night...I beleave that there are places to ski/snowboard only about an hour outside of metro d.c. ..hope the info helps a little..stillwaiting
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118. stormdude77
2:29 PM AST on January 19, 2008
There's some new questions on my blog to answer, you can view them here.
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117. Drakoen
5:51 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
I don't think there will be any snow for Florida. If there is any it would very light flurries or sleet. Already starting to clear out around the Pensacola area and water vapor imagery shows some mid to upper level dry air infiltrating into Mississippi and moving Alabama.
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116. FLWeatherFreak91
12:43 PM EST on January 19, 2008
I'm going to DC tomorrow and there is no snow predicted, but I was wondering if the sub freezing temperatures would allow any ice to form. I guess it depends on the amount of moisture and such. Some one explain please! I was born in the DR and then moved to Fl so I have absolutely no idea about winter weather.
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115. NorthxCakalaky
5:37 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Weather History
Did you know that...
On this date in 1977, a remarkable thing happened. Snow fell in Florida as far south as the northern Florida Keys. Snowflakes were reported at Miami, and the southernmost snowfall in U.S. history fell at Homestead, Fla. when the city picked up a trace of the white stuff.

- More Weather Education Resources -
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114. hahaguy
5:32 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
hey all i have been on a little hiatus but i am back. down here in florida it has been a little too warm for this time of year. i'm just glad there is a cold front coming down tonight
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113. eyewall99
5:27 PM GMT on January 19, 2008

Drak, 3-6 inches? Dont look like the professionals are saying that
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112. NorthxCakalaky
5:24 PM GMT on January 19, 2008

The National Weather Service in Mobile has issued a Winter Weather
Advisory... which is in effect until 3 PM CST this afternoon. The
Winter Weather Advisory area is generally south of a line from New
Augusta Mississippi to Monroeville Alabama to Luverne Alabama... and
north of a line from Pensacola to Andalusia Alabama.

A low pressure system will pass across the northeast Gulf and into
the western Atlantic today. A large area of precipitation across the
area will gradually shift eastward while cold air continues to flow
into the region. The cold air is resulting in rain becoming mixed
with sleet and possibly snow. Accumulations of snow will be generally
less than 1 inch on grassy areas... bridges and overpasses. Even colder
air will flow into the region tonight... turning any water that
remains on roadways... sidewalks and other surfaces into ice... making
for especially treacherous conditions.

A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow... sleet... or
freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for
slippery roads and limited visibilities... and use caution while

SNow for F.L.
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110. latitude25
10:54 AM EST on January 19, 2008
Shen, the question is how long can the planet maintain this warm temperature that we have all gotten used to for the past 10,000 years.

The planet has spent most of history much colder for much longer. It has somehow managed to maintain a higher temperature - called an optimum - that we have evolved to live in.

We should be worried about getting colder again, that is what the planet has historically done, and what is the most logical prediction.

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109. Drakoen
3:45 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Southeast weather blog updated.
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108. ShenValleyFlyFish
9:43 AM EST on January 19, 2008
106. MikeOhio 9:39 AM EST on January 19, 2008

Get a glass. Fill it almost to the brim. Steadily drip water into the glass. When it overflows collect and measure overflow. But it was only the last drop that caused it. That's how nature works. The question is not the proportion of human impact to the system but can the system take one more drop.
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107. Weather456
10:45 AM AST on January 19, 2008
Good morning stormw, storm77, lawn and all lurkers
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106. MikeOhio
2:37 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
I think whatever influence man might have on the environment is dwarfed in all measurements by whatever the Sun happens to be doing.

Man might be causing some global warming, but man is insignificant when compared to what the sun does.....
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105. lawntonlookers
2:20 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Just checking on the Great Lakes, and with the water still being above freezing, they are calling for some Lake efffect snow. It will be interesting to see how much they end up with. Have a good day and will check latter to see how things are doing.
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103. stormdude77
9:50 AM AST on January 19, 2008
Good morning everyone!
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102. lawntonlookers
1:49 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
Good morning. Just checking in to see what is going on. Looks like the NE will miss any snow from the frigid cold front as it passes. Have a good day.
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100. Cavin Rawlins
1:37 PM GMT on January 19, 2008

This morning's QuikSCAT and surface observations revealed winds above 20 knots dominates the region. This is producing 7-8 ft seas across most parts and 13 ft seas along the Colombian coast where the pressure gradient is tightest. This increase in wind and the subsequent wave activity can be blamed on the broad 1027 mb high north of the region. Upper ridging and dry air covers the entire basin with plentiful clear to partly cloudy skies especially over the Eastern Caribbean where confluent flow alft exist. Any shower activity will be confined to isolated patches of tradewind moisture and because of the tradewind speed, these should be brief. The exception will be along parts the Central American terrain, especially the windward sides where orographical lift will cause enhance rainfall and because they are being blocked, showers may be persistent but shallow here. Enjoy the Caribbean today!

by W456
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99. Cavin Rawlins
1:29 PM GMT on January 19, 2008



Moderate to strong convection is spreading across the Gulf of Mexico north of 25N and the Southeast United States. This activity is associated with the leading edge of a storm system’s surface low at 21N/91W and warm front extending from the low to Central Florida at 26N-82W. This area lies within the left entrance region of an upper ridge axis across the Caribbean and thus allowing deep shower activity to prevail. The preceding mid-upper level southwesterly flow aloft is spreading a swath of mid-upper level cloudiness and showers across Mexico from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico west of 90W. Otherwise, clear to partly cloudy skies is seen elsewhere.

Deep layer anticyclonic flow covers the Atlantic Ocean west of 60W. Mid-upper level cloudiness flows from the Southeast United States to 60W north of 30N. At the surface, anticyclonic flow and fair weather dominates south of 30N from 55W to the Bahamas...centered on a 1027 mb high near 28N-62W.

by W456
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97. hurricane24
12:33 PM GMT on January 19, 2008
what is going on at the moment in hurricane land?
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95. moonlightcowboy
11:50 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
Nowcast as of 5:33 am CST on January 19, 2008

Periods of cold light rain...mixed with light sleet and snow...will continue through 7 am across portions of northeast Louisiana...and much of west...central...and east Mississippi. Sleet or snow accumulations will be light...mainly on colder surfaces such as metal objects and in grassy areas. A light accumulation on area bridges and overpasses will also be possible with this activity. As a result...motorists should use caution when commuting through the area this morning.

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94. Skyepony (Mod)
4:37 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
There's some links in here to US maps with tornado #s per state. Certainly looks like Hiexpress & I have good reason to fear the El Niño years (well in addition to the El Nino fire season).
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93. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
4:11 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
At 0:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Cyclone Funa Category Four [930 hPa] located near 20.9S 174.8E is reported moving south-southeast at 11 knots expected to turn south in the next 6 hours then southwest. Maximum 10 minute sustained wind near the center is 95 knots decreasing to 80 knots in the next 6-12 hours. Position GOOD based on Multispectral Enhanced Infrared Radar Imagery with animation and Peripheral Surface Observation.

Hurricane-Force Winds within 40 miles from center

Storm-Force Winds within 65 miles from center

Gale-Force Winds within 180 miles from center.

Organization has increased in the last 6 hours. An irregular eye with deep convection cooling around it. The system is maintaining good equatorward outflow. CIMSS shows low to moderate shear over the system. The system is expected to weaken as it comes under the influence of stronger wind shear that exist about 25S with significantly cooler sea surface temperatures.

Dvorak based on DT5.5, Thus T5.5/5.5/D1.0/24 HRS.

Global models agree that the system will move along a rapid poleward track, turning gradually southward then southwest. The system is expected to become a strong extra-tropical low.

Forecast and Intensity
12 HRS: 23.5S 175.7E 80 knots [CAT 3]
48 HRS: 32.3S 169.0E 45 knots [CAT 1]

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92. SRQBoogieMan
4:06 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
I took this from another website...ummmm, kinda funny unless you're a cowboys fan.

NEW TORNADO POLICY for Dallas-Ft. Worth area:

In case of possible tornadoes sweeping through the Dallas-Ft.
Worth area, we ask that all residents take shelter at Texas Stadium. We
are certain that a touchdown will not occur there.

Thank you for your cooperation,

National Weather Bureau
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4:05 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
Although they can happen anytime, if memory serves, here in Central Fl the last tornado outbreaks with high death tolls (1998, 2007) occurred during ElNino phases. During ENSO neutral conditions (La Nada), I think we get hail. GN
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3:36 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
.12 woo hoo! I went to the boat show today. Going to buy an Ark.

Lake Okeechobee didn't get that much.
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88. Skyepony (Mod)
3:36 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
Michael~ Now the direct tie to deadly, large, long lived & more north makes perfect sense.

HiExpress~ That deluge was nice. Had another .12" today.

Funa forecast track
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87. quasigeostropic
3:29 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
Did he reply to my comment? Tell him that it is futile... has he ever heard of the Ignore List (or wondered what that "Ignore User" link is for)?

That has nothing to do with what I said.......And plants and a zillion other things consume that Co2 when its produced....How do you even know at what point Co2 becomes beneficial? You cant measure it, it is impossible to do so reliably......

and if I was on "ignore" you must have looked at my post anyways.
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86. extreme236
3:28 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
Hey STL...there have been a lot of alien sightings recently lol...have a good night.
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85. quasigeostropic
3:26 AM GMT on January 19, 2008
Yep. I cant disagree or Im a "denialist".....No one knows what's happening in our world of climate, we dont have enough info. Plain and simple.
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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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