Hot January extends run of record worldwide warmth

Jury is in on climate change: Brian SchmidtClimate change science for dummies
Nanjing Night Net

Worldwide temperatures are showing little sign of easing back from 2014’s record levels, with January matching the warmest tallies for the month in 125 years of data, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The agency said average global surface temperatures last month were 0.29 degrees above the 1981-2010 average and 0.68 degrees above the average for the 20th century.

That reading tied with 2002 and 2007 as the warmest January in records going back to 1891, the agency said.

The next warmest was 2010, with an anomaly of 0.21 degrees above the 1981-2010 average.

The US space agency NASA ranked January as its second warmest on record, behind 2007. The NASA data, though, shows the 12 months ending in January were the hottest on record, according to science blogger Greg Laden.

The JMA last month joined NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the World Meteorological Organisation in declaring 2014 to have been the hottest year on record, eclipsing 2005 and 2010.

For Australia, January was close to the long-term average in warmth while 2014 was the third-warmest year, trailing 2013 and 2005.

Even the US, which has attracted wide media attention for a string of winter snowstorms that have blitzed the north-eastern states, had a relatively warm January.

Record warm days in the lower 48 states exceeded record cold ones by more than a four-to-one ratio, NOAA reported recently, with national snow cover below average.

Average temperatures were 33 degrees Fahrenheit  (0.6 degrees Celsius), or almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, making it the 24th warmest January on record for the contiguous US states.

El Nino fears

The unusual warmth has come even without an El Nino climate pattern forming in the Pacific. During El Nino years, ocean heat uptake slows or even reverses, warming the atmosphere and adding to the background run-up in temperatures caused by climate change, climatologists say.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology this week said sea-surface conditions in the tropical Pacific were neutral, easing back from a near-El Nino set-up during the previous two months.

Several long-range forecasting models “suggest some renewed warming may occur beyond May”, the bureau said, noting that predictions beyond the first quarter of the year “tend to be less reliable than those made at other times”.

Even taking that so-called predictability gap into account when conditions in the Pacific reset to some extent each autumn in the southern hemisphere, the bureau said “outlooks favour warm-neutral or El Nino-like ocean temperatures” beyond May.

An El Nino, should it occur later in the year, would most likely make 2015 one of the hottest years on record globally.

For Australia, an El Nino would probably lead to drier and hotter-than-usual conditions for much of the country.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.