After an “Arctic blast” led to days of below-freezing weather and piles of snow, environmentalists with the Natural Resources Defense Council are reminding supporters that 2014 could be the hottest year on record.
NRDC sent out an email Friday morning linking to an article from its OnEarth magazine titld, “It Is really Getting Hot In Here.” The article refers to speculation that 2014 is on track to be the hottest year on record based on global average surface temperature anomalies.
“Last month was the hottest October on record, according to data from NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency,” author Brian Palmer wrote in OnEarth. “That’s going back to at least 1880, when global record-keeping began. May, June, August, and September were all record breakers, too.”
“It’s becoming a pretty common announcement. Thanks to climate change, the earth has now notched 356 months of above-average temperatures, and the oldest hottest month on record is just 16 years old,” Palmer wrote. “Records are made to be broken, I guess.”
Palmer’s point is that while this past week, not to mention past winter, was cold, it’s only a blip on the radar. It’s overshadowed by a string of months with record-high average temperature anomalies.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that October 2014 was the hottest on record at 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 57.1 degrees Fahrenheit. NOAA noted that the “the first ten months of 2014 were the warmest such period on record.”
“No one under the age of 98 (or 97 and three-quarters, to be exact) can remember the last time the globe experienced one of those (it was December 1916),” wrote Palmer. “Woodrow Wilson was president. Nelson Mandela had not been born. Canada was still part of Great Britain (yes, really).”
“So this Thanksgiving, when your tipsy Uncle Jim tries to tell you that climate change is a hoax, maybe show him this timeline of temperature records,” Palmer quipped. “Then ask him to pass the gravy—before it boils.”
But Palmer’s argument relies on surface temperature data. Satellite data, on the other hand, casts some doubt on the claim that 2014 will be the hottest year on record.
“With only 3 months left in the year, there is no realistic way for 2014 to set a record in the satellite data,” wrote Dr. Roy Spencer, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH).
“Of course, 2015 could still set a record if the current El Nino ever gets its act together. But I’m predicting it won’t,” Spencer added.
Satellite data from UAH and the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) both showed that September 2014 was not the hottest on record, despite what NOAA surface temperature readings concluded. UAH and RSS data showed September 2014 was only the 7th and 9th warmest on record.
Satellite readings also cast doubt on claims that October 2014 was the hottest on record. UAH satellite data did, in fact, show that October 2014 ranked as the hottest month on record, but RSS data showed October to be 9th warmest on record.
But all this debate over whether or not globally 2014 will rank as the warmest on record comes as millions of Americans huddled for warmth against a so-called “Arctic blast” that sent frigid weather and snow across the country.
“There have been more than 400 record lows and record cool highs set, covering 43 states, since Sunday,” reports the Weather Channel. “That leaves only five states in the contiguous U.S., all in New England, that have not experienced record cold temperatures this week.”
“On Wednesday morning record lows were broken or tied from New York to Houston. Thursday morning brought more record cold to parts of the Southeast,” the Weather Channel reports.
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