Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2008 Global Temperature Ties As Eighth Warmest On Record

An article on ScienceDaily entitled "2008 Global Temperature Ties As Eighth Warmest On Record" reports that "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." The article was based on the Climate of 2008 Annual Report from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The real bottom line is that we are not setting global temperature records one right after the other. 2005 was a near-term peak, but the three years since have been slightly cooler. The decline from the peak can be seen on this chart. Even the average temperature of land in the northern hemisphere, where the "warming" is supposedly the most pronounced, is only the 5th highest on record. The ocean in the southern hemisphere is the 10th highest on record.

There is also an anomaly with surface vs. the middle troposphere (2-6 miles) temperatures, with the mid-troposphere showing a marked decline from a 2002 peak and with 2008 actually being lower than the 20th century average.

Also, 2008 was not a new record-low year for Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent. And in fact, Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent actually set record for the largest extent in a number of months.

None of this either proves or disproves any theses about global warming, and simply serves to emphasize that the data is highly variable and the actual long-term trend is rather unclear.

-- Jack Krupansky

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