Global Temperature Update

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has published their data for global average temperature anomaly in June of this year. With June included, the latest data look like this:

It’s not really a surprise; global temperature continues to fluctuate, but those fluctuations are superimposed on a steady trend which, at present, is rising. If we compute yearly averages, we get this:

The final figure is 2018 year-to-date, which includes only the first half of the year. Still, 2018 is on track to be pretty hot, the 4th-hottest on record. Note that, using the year-to-date figure for 2018, the five hottest years on record are the last five years.

Much of the fluctuation is from causes unknown, but some of it is due to factors we do know about. Solar variations can increase or decrease the total energy arriving at Earth from space, although solar variations are only slight. Very large volcanic eruptions can throw junk into the upper atmosphere, and their sulfur compounds tend to end up as sulfate aerosols which scatter sunlight back to space and cool down the planet. One of the strongest and most pervasive fluctuation factors is the el Niño southern oscillation (ENSO); in its warm el Niño phase it heats up the atmosphere while in its opposite la Niña phase it cools us off.

Some climate deniers (are you there, “Global Warming Policy Foundation”?) still cling to the idea that the recent super-hot temperatures are just the result of the recent strong el Niño. Well, the el Niño is over — but temperatures remain above the previous decade’s average.

Still one wonders, how did ENSO affect recent temperatures? For that matter, how did those other known influences affect recent temperatures? To get some clues, I applied the method of Foster & Rahmstorf to estimate the impact of ENSO, volcanic eruptions, and solar variations on global temperature. Here’s the estimated impact of ENSO since 1975:

The strongest warming events due to ENSO were in 1983, 1998, and 2016. The strongest el Niño events were a bit before then, but there’s a lag between and el Niño event and its impact on global surface temperature. The effect of ENSO right now isn’t continued warming, it’s actually slight cooling.

The 1983 el Niño, strong as it was, was not followed by extra-high temperatures as were the 1998 and 2016 events. That’s because one of the other factors cancelled its warming influence, namely the cooling induced by the explosion of the el Chicon volcano. The estimated effect of all three fluctuating factors combined turns out to be this:

When we subtract the estimated impact of these fluctuation factors from observed temperature, we get an improved, “adjusted” temperature series — an estimate of how hot Earth would be without those factors that come and go but don’t last. It looks like this:

This makes the continued warming of the globe even more obvious … not that it wasn’t obvious already. We can, again, compute yearly averages:

This not only shows how global warming continues, it shows that when exogenous factors are removed, 2018 is on track to be the 2nd-hottest year, not 4th-hottest.

The adjusted series is helpful because it gives a better picture of what’s happening apart from known fluctuation factors. That gives a more precise estimate of the trend, and therefore of what we can expect in the near future.

As for what we can expect in the not-so-near future, that is best forecast based on physics, which is best computed with global climate models. They forecast a dire future … which is why climate deniers go to such lengths and sink to such depths of stupidity and dishonesty to insult them.

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15 responses to “Global Temperature Update

  1. Where will it end (the rising temperature)? Will it rise indefinitely? Will it stabilize at some stage? Will there be another ice age?

    • In order:

      1) That depends in considerable part on our collective actions in the present and near future;

      2) No, but there’s a lot of uncertainty about precisely when it will stop and at what equilibrium temperature (and again, that depends in significant part on our choices);

      3) Yes, more or less (since Earth’s equilibrium temperature has generally been pretty good considering but not perfect)–with or without humans present in the biosphere;

      4) Quite possibly, but it may well be considerably–I’m tempted to say, somewhat mischievously, ‘indefinitely’–delayed by the GHGs we have pumped, and still will pump, into the atmosphere. (There has been published research on this–you can look it up if interested.)

      • Thanks! So the answer is really: “We don’t know – too many uncertainties”

      • > So the answer is really: “We don’t know – too many uncertainties”

        I wouldn’t put it that way. The main uncertainty is how much CO2 we will emit before we finally go carbon-neutral. The “RCP pathways” (google that) represent a range of possible carbon emitting, and for each one there are pretty decent estimates/simulations of warming. Of course even “decent” predictions of future warming still have +- 50% error bars.

  2. According to Wood for Trees, the 30-year trend for GISS L&O through June 2018 is now above .19 ℃ per decade. What is the 30-year trend for your last graph?

    [Response: Using the adjusted data, for the last 30 years (July 1988 to present) the linear rate is 0.191 +/- 0.005 ℃ per decade.]

  3. Unstoppable global cooling since 2016. Be afraid.

  4. I know that mark one eyeball is unreliable and the adjusted data increases error due to the processing steps.
    The trend in your adjusted series appears to fit a curve better than a linear trend.
    Something we might expect to see as feedbacks kick in.

    [Response: I’ve been looking at that, and so far there’s no real evidence of departure from a linear trend since 1975. There are hints … but it hasn’t even reached 90% confidence yet, let alone the “de facto” standard 95%.

    Of course I’ll keep my eye on this as the future unfolds, but I’ll be as rigorous about declaring acceleration as the climate deniers *should have been* about declaring their fake “pause.”]

  5. Thanks again. It is quite striking how straight the temp curve becomes after removing those known sources of noise, which is a strong argument for a clear cause-effect-function. Fortunately, there is not yet any acceleration to be seen.
    Showing this is a comparably easy task. More difficult is to strive against the stream and not enjoy the relish of the still very cheap energy.
    In the age of distributed responsibility, where the action of the single human being has next to no impact, while the collective action of all have a very strong impact, to hold yourself – and others – back and relinquish energy consumption is feeling odd and right at the same time.

    • “…not enjoy the relish of the still very cheap energy.”

      Luckily, the cheapest energy is now low-carbon (ie., onshore wind) and soon will be (for many locations) solar PV. So, while I’m not dismissing the challenges posed by non-dispatchable energy sources, I’d still contend that one of the horns of the ‘green vs. cheap’ dilemma is rapidly atrophying away to nothing.

      • There is certainly progress on that front, but the transport situation still has a long way to go. Plane remains cheaper than train quite a lot of the time (although not always), and I just tried renting an EV for my holiday car, and it’s _3 times_ the price of a boring ICE car. (3270CAD vs 750CAD+300 fuel). That’s quite a disincentive even for those of us who’d like to do the right thing. (It is at least possible now – 3 years ago the option simply didn’t exist, so that is progress.)

        It’s also still cheaper to heat your house for 20 or 30 years than insulate it properly, and people are _very_ bad at taking the long-term view. Over 100 year lifetime of the building, that’s a brilliant deal… And my very environmentally-aware friend (editor of an environment journal, Phd in environmental studies, still just fitted a gas boiler rather than a heat pump). All the good options were both ‘too expensive’ and strongly discouraged by tradespeople. If she’s not doing it right, just about no-one is.

        The pace of change remains far too slow…

  6. Daniel Ferra

    Town in Oman Breaks World Record for Hottest Night

    This week, a town in the nation of Oman clocked the highest “low” temperature ever recorded. On June 26, Quriyat’s 50,000 residents sweltered through 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit—at night.

    That’s a new world record for the hottest nighttime temperature over a 24-hour period, Weather Undergroundreported, citing weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera.

    Aug 15, 2012 – “According to Weather Underground, the city of Needles, California, recently experienced what is believed to be the hottest rainfall on record 115°F.”

    A temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 degrees Celsius) and 80% humidity produces a wet-bulb or “feels like” temperature of 129 degrees Fahrenheit (53.9 degrees Celsius) on the NOAA National Weather Service Heat Index.

    Over 5 Feet of Rain With Harvey

    The Arctic is an Methane Time Bomb

    Methane holds 130 Times More Heat Mass, in The Molecule Than Carbon, in the First Ten Years

    Then 86 Times, When it Reaches 20 years,

    Then holds 34 times more Heat Mass For The Next 100 Years

    Why is The Arctic Warmer ?

    Isostatic Rebounding of Greenlands Tectonic Plate, affecting (Gakkels Rift), causing Earthquakes in the Arctic, as well as Venting Mantle Methane

    Arctic News Sept. 15 2013

    “ As more ice melts away on Greenland and more water runs off in the Ocean and Sea, There is less weight on Greenlands Crust, the Crust Bouncing back from the lighter weight.

    The Crust bouncing back during Large Melts an effect called Isostatic Rebounding.

    This Rebounding can not Only Trigger Earthquakes and Landslides, it can also Suck Up the Magma from the Mantle.

    It Also Sucks Up Magma From The Mantle.

    It also Sucks Up Mantle Methane !

    Triggering Volcanic Eruptions and Venting Mantle Methane”. Sam Carana

    No one has the numbers on Venting Methane in the Arctic

    Four Geological Formations Spewing and Venting Methane Now In The Arctic

    Perma Frost Melting

    Methane Hydrates


    Isostatic Reboundings

    All This Venting and Emitting of Methane

    + The 40 -50 Billion Tons of Carbon emitted Globally each year by this so called civilized human, we are all animals

    This is why the Arctic is 30C. Warmer than Normal

    The US Federal Reserve Must Stand Down, From Its Military March To The Markets, Globalization

    We have increased Global Temps 1.7C. and Climbing, since the 1700s

    Sandy, Katrina, Irma, Maria, an Harvey had 19% to 49% more Record Rain, Record Winds, Record Sea Suges,

    Our New Normal

    Record Rain, Record Snow,

    Record Highs Record Lows

    Record Winds, Record Waves,

    Record Fires, Record Floods,

    Record Volcanic Eruptions
    Record Hurricanes,

    Record Tsunamis, Record Typhoons,

    Record Earthquakes, Record Mud-Slides, an Record Sea Surges.

    What we have now, is a Broken Up Jet Stream,

    That has been Pierced, and Lobed,

    Because of Mantle Methane, Methane Hydrates, Pingoes, Perma Frost, Fracking, All emitting Methane Now

    and Emitting over 40 – 50 Billion Toxic Tons of Carbon each year Globally.

    All this Hot Gas has Pierced the Jet Stream in to Lobes,

    The Hot Gas Fueled with the Insane Arctic, Greenland, and Antarctic Ice Melts.

    Has Roared its Global Warming Frontal Lobes with Record Setting Temperatures and Record Setting Snow, and Record Setting Rain.

    These Methane, and Carbon Molecules Have Roared Their Increased Water Vapor and Global Warming Gases, That will Set Record Heat, Record Snow, Until Greenland is 1/2 melted.

    Then Just Record Rain and Record Heat,

    “Other parts of the polar region off the northern coast of Greenland have seen temperatures 30C higher than normal for February”.

    Just digest that number for a minute.

    What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and the temperature was 30C higher than normal ?

    I’ll quote “President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’.

    what it’s worth I’ll continue to chronicle the unraveling of the biosphere but I don’t expect it to hold together much longer.

    The sea ice in the Arctic is retreating from the melting temperatures from both the ocean and atmospheric anomalies.

    Soon the sun will rise in the Arctic and put the retreat on steroids and we are still 7 months away from the traditional low period.

    Will we see the 50 gigatonne methane release that has been predicted by Dr’s Shakova and Smiletov from the University of Fairnbanks in Alaska. Only time will tell and time has run out.” Kevin Hester

    Kevin Hester “If you compare his conclusions with those of Maria Shakova et-al from the University of Fairbanks Alaska you can see why professor Guy McPherson and I believe this September could be our last after a 50 giga tonne methane release and the attendant collapse of industrial civilization. Huge respect to the field researchers rather than the modelers who all seem to be ‘owned’.”

    Methane Burp Or Pingoe Popping Pimple

    The Ocean Floors Crust have been sinking due to the ice melts in Greenland and the Antarctic, and Each 1C. Temp Rise, Atmospheric Moisture increases 7%

    We have increased Global Temps 1.9C. and Climbing, since the 1700s

    Sandy, Katrina, Irma, Maria, an Harvey had 19% to 49% more Record Rains, Record Winds, Record Sea Surges,

    The Mantle is being pressured by all this water, in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans

    and at some point, like Natalia Shakhov, Guy Mcpherson, and Kevin Hester point out, we are going to experience a Methane blow out in the Arctic, from Mantle Methane, Perma-Frost, Methane Hydrates, Pingoes.

    The Methane has been telling us, it is going to blow since 2005 by Maria Shakhov, what was a finger size blow whole in 2005 is now a 200-300 ft. wide blow hole called Pingoes 2015

    And their increasing in number and size in Siberia, North American Plate, and on the Euro-Asian Plate

    Glaciation kept the Mantle Cooler, Mantle is Heating up, The Accelerated Melt is Going to Be Horrendous, Horrific, and Tsunamic 1,500 feet, Way Faster Than they are Saying, Way Faster Than You Think

    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    We Need a National Feed in Tariff

    It is time to get the Country Ready to Respond, Each Home can be a Beacon, Shining the Light of Hope, Even just for a Few Years, Months, Weeks, Days

    Published on Oct 11, 2014
    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    “We are facing the final, corporate capitalist fossil fuel created, atmospheric carbon dioxide driven, catastrophic Arctic methane hydrate destabilization and methane blowout Permian extinction event that will culminate in 2 to 9 years (2020 to 2027).

    We will all be converted into stardust. Be excellent with each other in these last days and hours on the only remaining habitable planet in this solar system.” Malcolm Light

    There is 450 Nuclear Reactors and 1,200 Nuclear Fuel Rod Facilities Plus over 16,000 Nuclear Weapons, Will The Crust Vaporize in to the Mantle ? When Salt Water Soaks Them.

    [Response: In my opinion, your comment is genuinely “alarmist” — by which I mean, you exaggerate so many things that you are NOT helping. God knows the situation is dire enough, action is needed desperately enough, but this kind of over-the-top doomsaying doesn’t get us closer to the social and political will to make it happen, rather it’s an obstacle. Just my opinion.]

    • Just for one example, you’ve got this bit completely wrong:

      Methane holds 130 Times More Heat Mass, in The Molecule Than Carbon, in the First Ten Years

      Then 86 Times, When it Reaches 20 years,

      Then holds 34 times more Heat Mass For The Next 100 Years

      First, the term ‘heat mass’ is meaningless.

      Second, the global warming potential numbers you’ve given don’t relate to individual CH4 molecules–how could they? Their quantum behavior doesn’t ‘age’, so as long as a methane molecule remains intact, its atmospheric effect will be precisely the same. The GWP numbers have primarily to do with how long methane resides in the atmosphere, but there’s more to it than that, as the note to this page hints:

      Third, as the table reveals, the numbers you quote seem to be, well, wrong.

      I’m sure you can find a more complete explanation with a little searching, if you wish.

  7. Looking at the graph makes me think of a question: is it now plausible that the warming trend means we’ll never again (baring a large volcanic eruption etc) in human timescales see a year as *cool* as the massive el niño year of 1998?

  8. Daniel, Tamino has already responded but I’ll throw $0.02 in as well.

    We have increased Global Temps 1.9C. and Climbing, since the 1700s.

    My own poking at the temperature reconstructions suggests a 1.2 C rise since ~1750. Last year at a seminar I attended Eelco Rohling quoted the same figure for pretty much the same period of time. I don’t think that there is any indication that there was an extra 0.7 C in the preceding 50 years.

    As Tamino says, things are bad enough as they are, and a lot of your talking points reflect that. It would be useful though to be circumspect in cases such as the multicentenial warming, so that there can be no accusation of guilding the lily. If you have a reference though that defensibly supports the 1.9 C figure I’d be very interested.