Friday, December 19, 2008

2008: What a cool year...

It's official, 2008 was the coolest year this century! Several major worldwide climate monitoring networks have recorded the subtle cooling. The cooling is not being felt everywhere, but here in the Midwest United States it's definitely noticeable, and it's a relief.

But, wait: 2008 was very warm compared with the 20th Century. It was the 9th warmest year since 1880 according to Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss). I guess we are just getting used to the balmy greenhouse climate of the 21st Century.

Global warming has not reversed, but we are getting a breather from the really warm preceding decade as La Nina, a minor climate cycle driven by Pacific Ocean temperature and current flow variations, wanes. Her partner, El Nino, is full of hot air and may be just around the corner: Fingers crossed. Let's hope the cool trend lasts a while longer.

"Peter Scott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the UK Met Office of which the Hadley Centre is a part, suggested that in previous decades 2008 would have stood out as unusually warm."

Quoted by the BBC, speaking of 1998, the warmest year on record, Scott suggests, ""Human influence, particularly emission of greenhouse gases, has greatly increased the chance of having such warm years," he said.""

Rising greenhouse gases and exceptionally strong El Nino conditions pushed thermometers to an average of about 14.52C for 1998.

The ten warmest years since 1880:
1998 - 14.52C
2005 - 14.48C
2003 - 14.46C
2002 - 14.46C
2004 - 14.43C
2006 - 14.42C
2007 - 14.40C
2001 - 14.40C
1997 - 14.36C
2008 - 14.31C
Data: Met Office Hadley Centre

A BTU conserved is more than a BTU earned!

Read more from the BBC here.

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