I’m Warm Enough. You Can Turn it Down Now.
January 16, 2013
The numbers are in once again on global temperatures for the year just past, and as expected, turns out 2012 was, well, pretty warm.
The globally-averaged temperature for 2012 marked the 10th warmest year since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 36th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average annual temperature was 1976. Including 2012, all 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001–2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record. Only one year during the 20st century—1998—was warmer than 2012.
Most areas of the world experienced higher-than-average annual temperatures, including most of North and South America, most of Europe and Africa, and western, southern, and far northeastern Asia. Meanwhile, most of Alaska, far western Canada, central Asia, parts of the eastern and equatorial Pacific, southern Atlantic, and parts of the Southern Ocean were notably cooler than average. Additionally, the Arctic experienced a record-breaking ice melt season while the Antarctic ice extent was above average.
The average temperature in 2012 was about 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 Celsius), which is 1.0 F (0.6 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has risen about 1.4 degrees F (0.8 C) since 1880, according to the new analysis.
Scientists emphasize that weather patterns always will cause fluctuations in average temperature from year to year, but the continued increase in greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere assures a long-term rise in global temperatures. Each successive year will not necessarily be warmer than the year before, but on the current course of greenhouse gas increases, scientists expect each successive decade to be warmer than the previous decade.
“One more year of numbers isn’t in itself significant,” GISS climatologist Gavin Schmidt said. “What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade, and that decade was warmer than the decade before. The planet is warming. The reason it’s warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
This is no surprise, NASA, NOAA and others have been consistent. For years, they’ve have made it clear that global warming is unequivocal. NASA points out that “A publicly available computer program is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place during 1951 to 1980”. The data is widely available on line.
That did not stop climate deniers from doing their best to delude themselves and as many others as possible about the physics of greenhouse gases, and continually accuse NASA and others of somehow fudging numbers.
In recent years, climate deniers hoped they would have a champion in Stanford Physicist Richard Muller, a self declared skeptic, who, with funding from, among others, the Koch Brothers, initiated what he claimed would be the ultimate study of global temperatures, if they were rising, and why.
High profile climate denier Anthony Watts wrote at the inception of the study:
“I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong. The method isn’t the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU. That lack of strings attached to funding, plus the broad mix of people involved especially those who have previous experience in handling large data sets gives me greater confidence in the result being closer to a bona fide ground truth than anything we’ve seen yet.”
To his credit, Muller assembled a team of good scientists, under the leadership of Lead Scientist Robert Rohde. That’s the main reason why, when the results came in, Watts and the denia-sphere were disappointed.
Dr. Muller has been widely covered in the national media, but I was curious to hear from one of the man Muller raved was a great scientist, a mathematical genius. I ran into Dr. Rohde at the American Geophysical Union conference in December 2012, and asked him to sum up what the BEST project had learned.