NOAA: Global Summary Information – December 2015

From NOAA. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

2015 is Earth’s warmest year by widest margin on record;
December 2015 temperature record warm

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.

Global highlights: December 2015

  • During December, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.00°F (1.11°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2014 by 0.52°F (0.29°C). The December temperature departure from average was also the highest departure among all months in the historical record and the first time a monthly departure has reached +2°F from the 20th century average.
  • During December, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 3.40°F (1.89°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2006 by 0.86°F (0.48°C).
  • During December, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.49°F (0.83°C) above the 20th century average. This was also the highest for December in the 1880–2015 record, . surpassing the previous record of 2009 by 0.36°F (0.20°C)
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for December was 300,000 square miles (6.0 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the fourth smallest December extent since records began in 1979, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center based on data from NOAA and NASA.
  • Antarctic sea ice during December was 100,000 square miles (0.9 percent) below the 1981–2010 average.
  • According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during December was 190,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This was the 19th smallest December Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in the 50-year period of record.
  • For extended analysis of global temperature and precipitation patterns, please see our full December report.

    From The New York Times (Justin Gillis):

    Scientists reported Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history by far, breaking a record set only the year before — a burst of heat that has continued into the new year and is roiling weather patterns all over the world.

    In the contiguous United States, the year was the second-warmest on record, punctuated by a December that was both the hottest and the wettest since record-keeping began. One result has been a wave of unusual winter floods coursing down the Mississippi River watershed.

    Scientists started predicting a global temperature record months ago, in part because an El Niño weather pattern, one of the largest in a century, is releasing an immense amount of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere. But the bulk of the record-setting heat, they say, is a consequence of the long-term planetary warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

    “The whole system is warming up, relentlessly,” said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

    It will take a few more years to know for certain, but the back-to-back records of 2014 and 2015 may have put the world back onto a trajectory of rapid global warming, after a period of relatively slow warming dating to the last powerful El Niño, in 1998…

    “Is there any evidence for a pause in the long-term global warming rate?” said Gavin A. Schmidt, head of NASA’s climate-science unit, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in Manhattan. “The answer is no. That was true before last year, but it’s much more obvious now.”


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