It's always hard to determine what the global climate is like from our little spot in the world. Then again, it's hard to know what data is correct and what isn't. One group says the world is returning to it's normal temps, the other says we are burning up, and there is a third claiming we are cooling!
This summer was fairly warm here in the northeast, but what I noticed most wasn't warm daytime highs but above average nighttime lows with relative high humidity. One thing I've always loved about this part of the country is the cool dry nights. So when those cool dry nights were absent it didn't go unnoticed.
Then we had a fairly cold November and December, starting with the second half of November bringing January temps and no typical warm-up. This winter has not only been seasonal, but we are ahead on snowfall over the 40 year average, and while I don't have the data, it would seem that at sea level we are above the median days of snow cover over the last decade!
Yet globally 2008 was the 8th warmest since 1880. Yes, a relatively small sliver of world history, but oddly the recent surge in warming has coincided with industrialization and emergence of 3rd world economies.
All this only goes to show that on any given day it's hard to tell what direction the worlds climate is headed, but I can say that cannibal polar bears, drowning polar bears, and the extinction of the lemmings isn't a phenomenon that can easily be swept under the rug by those who claim a different set a data.
Now if we only knew what the cause was?
NOAA: 2008 Global Temperature Ties as Eighth Warmest on Record
January 14, 2009
The year 2008 tied with 2001 as the eighth warmest year on record for the Earth, based on the combined average of worldwide land and ocean surface temperatures through December, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. For December alone, the month also ranked as the eighth warmest globally, for the combined land and ocean surface temperature. The assessment is based on records dating back to 1880.
The analyses in NCDC’s global reports are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when late reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC’s processing algorithms.
NCDC’s ranking of 2008 as the eighth warmest year compares to a ranking of ninth warmest based on an analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The NOAA and NASA analyses differ slightly in methodology, but both use data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center – the federal government's official source for climate data.
Global Temperature Highlights – 2008
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature from January-December was 0.88 degree F (0.49 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 57.0 degrees F (13.9 degrees C). Since 1880, the annual combined global land and ocean surface temperature has increased at a rate of 0.09 degree F (0.05 degree C) per decade. This rate has increased to 0.29 degree F (0.16 degree C) per decade over the past 30 years.
Separately, the global land surface temperature for 2008, through December, was sixth warmest, with an average temperature 1.46 degrees F (0.81 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 47.3 degrees F (8.5 degrees C).
Also separately, the global ocean surface temperature for 2008, through December, was 0.67 degree F (0.37 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 60.9 degrees F (16.1 degrees C) and ranked tenth warmest.
Global Temperature Highlights – December 2008
The December combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.86 degree F (0.48 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 54.0 degrees F (12.2 degrees C).
Separately, the December 2008 global land surface temperature was 1.22 degrees F (0.68 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 38.7 degrees F (3.7 degrees C) and ranked 14th warmest.
For December, the global ocean surface temperature was 0.74 degree F (0.41 degree C) above the 20th Century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.7 degrees C) and tied with December 2001 and December 2005 as sixth warmest.
Other Global Highlights for 2008
The United States recorded a preliminary total of 1,690 tornadoes during 2008, which is well above the 10-year average of 1,270 and ranks as the second highest annual total since reliable records began in 1953. The high number of tornado-related fatalities during the first half of the year made 2008 the 10th deadliest with a 2008 total of 125 deaths.
Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in December was 16.95 million square miles (43.91 million square kilometers). This was 0.17 million square miles (0.43 million square kilometers) above the 1966-2008 December average. Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was below average for most of 2008.
Arctic sea ice extent in 2008 reached its second lowest melt season extent on record in September. The minimum of 1.80 million square miles (4.67 million square kilometers) was 0.80 million square miles (2.09 million square kilometers) below the 1979-2000 average minimum extent.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.