I can make this pronouncement even before the end of the year because each month, I collect daily global average temperatures. So far, December is running about 0.5°C above the average. The climate and weather models predict that the next week will be about 0.75°C above average. This means, December will come in around 0.6°C above average. Are these daily values accurate? Well the last two months they have been within 0.05°C of the final official results.
What does this all mean? Well, when I combine December with the year-to-date as officially reported, I predict the annual temperature anomaly will be 0.674°C. This beats the prior record by 0.024°C. That is a big margin in terms of global temperatures.
For those of us who are not fixated on whether any individual year is a record but are more concerned with trends, this year is still important. Particularly because according to those who deny the basic physics and our understanding of climate change, this year wasn’t supposed to be particularly warm.
For those who thought that climate change was “natural” and driven by ocean currents, this has been a tough year. For instance, using NOAA standards, this year didn’t even have an El Niño. NOAA defines an El Niño as 5 continuous/overlapping 3-month time periods wherein a particular region in the Pacific has temperatures elevated more than 0.5oC.
Interestingly, we are currently close to an El Niño, and if current patterns continue for a few weeks, an official El Niño will be announced. But it hasn’t been yet, and if we do get an El Niño, it will affect next year more than this year. How could the hottest year have occurred then, when the cards are not stacked in its favor? The obvious and correct answer is, because of continued emission of greenhouse gases.
Here, among the experts, there is little fixation on the record. On the other hand, there was little fixation on the so-called “halt” to global warming that the climate-science deniers have been trumpeting for the past few years. The latest data paint a clear picture. The Earth is warming. The oceans are warming, the land is warming, the atmosphere is warming, the ice is melting, and sea level is rising.
These climate science deniers have had a bad year. It has been shown that in many cases, their science is in error and their understanding of the Earth’s climate faulty. This record temperature, according to NOAA, has made their life even more difficult. The so-called “halt” to global warming was never true in the first place, as I wrote recently. But now, a claim that global warming has stopped cannot be made with a straight face.
Of course, the science deniers will look for something new to try to cast doubt on the concept of global warming. Whatever they pick will be shown to be wrong. It always is. But perhaps we can use 2014 as a learning opportunity. Let’s hope no one is fooled next time when fanciful claims of the demise of climate change are made.