The numbers are in, and it looks like the “global cooling” theory just melted away.
A new independent statistical analysis of climate records for the past 130 years confirms that the global temperature trend continues upward. The study was performed for The Associated Press by four independent university statistics experts. The four were given blind data sets and asked to analyze the trends, not knowing they were analyzing temperature data to remove any possible bias.
NASA annual surface temperature anomaly relative to 1951-1980 mean, based on surface air measurements at meteorological stations and ship and satellite measurements of sea surface temperature.
Some climate change skeptics have been claiming that the earth has been cooling since 1998, which until that time was the hottest year in the 130 global year surface record. 2005 was slightly hotter according to a NASA analysis. According to NOAA the last 10 years are the hottest decade anywhere in the modern global historical record.
It is remarkable statistically that the 13 warmest years in the modern record have all occurred since 1990. The fact that the 13 warmest years since 1880 could have occured by accident after 1990 corresponds to a likelihood of no more than 1:10 000. That’s the equivalent of flipping a coin and having it come up “heads” 14 times in a row.
Some climate change skeptics point to solar variability as the primary reason for climate changes on earth. The problem is, we’ve just observed two of the least active sunspot years in the last century in 2008 and 2009 during the current solar minimum. You would expect then that those two years would be cooler than average globally if the solar cycle theory is valid.
Instead, 2008 was the 8th warmest year in the global temperature record. And event though parts of the U.S. have been running cool in this year, globally 2009 is on pace to be the 6th warmest year on record. That pretty much shreds the solar variability only theory on global temperatures. Why did we observe two “top 10″ warmest years during the lowest period of solar activity in nearly a century? Something else is at play here. Atmospheric changes are likely overcoming any natural solar variability.
Climate forcing graph shows solar variability as a much smaller climate change forcing component than greenhouse gasses.
(Sent to me by Kerry Emanuel MIT, based on Meehl et al. (2004) courtesy globalwarmingart.com)
This brings us to 2010, which is right around the corner. Several key elements appear to be in place that could produce one of the hottest years, if not the hottest year, in the modern global record.
1) The cooling effects of La Nina are gone in the Pacific Ocean. A moderate El Nino is gaining strength as we enter 2010. This may aid a rise in global temperatures in 2010.
2) The deepest solar minimum in nearly a century appears to be over. Sunspot 1029 formed rapidly this week and is the strongest this year. This could indicate the ramping up of solar cycle 24. Most astronomers expect a dramatic increase in solar activity in 2010.
If all these elements fall into place and the trend of recent decades continues, 2010 could be one of the hottest years on record.