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Science

2006 Was the Warmest Year Ever 782

Posted by kdawson
from the El-Nino-and-humankind-conspiring dept.
kpw10 writes "Dr. Jeff Masters from Wunderground has a great summary of this year's rather abnormal weather (his blog is the best source on the net for in-depth weather analysis). The post discusses some of the cyclical climate forces at work this year and compares this year's record temperatures to records from the past. There are some interesting differences, particularly in the extent of the northern hemisphere seeing record highs this year." From the article: "December's weather in the Northeast U.S. may have been a case of the weather dice coming up thirteen — weather not seen on the planet since before the Ice Age began, 118,000 years ago. The weather dice will start rolling an increasing number of thirteens in coming years, and an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summertime by 2040 is a very real possibility..." Here is the The National Climatic Data Center's report announcing the entry of 2006 into the record books.
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2006 Was the Warmest Year Ever

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  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:41AM (#17536700) Homepage Journal
    are either closed or operating at significantly reduced loads. Hell, some of the places in Austria are suggesting hiking trips instead of skiing this year. Here in Bavaria, we had(so I'm told) one of the coldest winters in the past 20 years last year, and this year I have only had to deal with frost twice(which is nice because I am on a bike)

    Meanwhile Colorado seems to be getting more snow than the rest of the world combined(I'm only being a tad dramatic there). They probably have the best skiing in the world this year, but the airports are always closed so nobody can get there!
  • by kihjin (866070) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:51AM (#17536760)
    You know, Michigan's upper peninsula. "Normally" we get about 200" of snow in a winter season [mtu.edu]. So far this season we've had one major snow storm, leaving us with approximiately 18". That's all. In December 2005, 77.5" fell. I would be surprised if we got a 1/10 of that in 2006.
  • Pollute more (Score:5, Informative)

    by Swimport (1034164) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:58AM (#17536796) Homepage
    If it wasnt for Global Dimming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_dimming [wikipedia.org] this would be worse. However, since particulate pollution is being cut more than C02 global dimming is falling behind global warming.
  • Re:well, maybe.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by cannonfodda (557893) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:06AM (#17536852)
    Not for me: 2006 UK Temperatures [metoffice.gov.uk] or for some time 1998 Temps [metoffice.gov.uk]
    There may be a trend there.......

    Unfortunately I couldn't find the wind speed data for this year but that seems to be significantly higher than usual.
  • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:27AM (#17536960) Homepage
    Temperature in the UK has apparently been tracked for 350 years and last year had the highest average temperature of those 350 years.
  • Weirder indeed (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pegasus (13291) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:35AM (#17537014) Homepage
    This just shows that people don'r really understand what global warming means. Sure, temperatures are going to be one or two degrees higher ON AVERAGE, but that does not mean warmer winters and hotter summers in general. It means that the system as a whole will have more energy, so weather phenomena will be more intensive and fluctuations will have higer amplitude. Think of more powerful storms, more destructive hurricanes, etc. Cold winter 2005 and warmest year 2006 is a nice example of such fluctuation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:53AM (#17537114)
    Global Warming is a difficult subject because it can be difficult to understand, primarily because of the lies in the media about it not being our (humands) fault. I like to think myself an intelligent person, im not a genius however I am not an idiot. Since I was 18 (in 2002) I have been reading about GW as much as possible. I have tried my best to educate myself from scientific information that is unbiased however that can be very difficult because of all the rubbish printed in the American press. I am not really surprised that a lot of people do not believe in GW because all that they have read about it has been lies. Not many people will go out and educate themselves independantly like I have done. Now to the point of my post :) When I meet someone who does not believe in GW I always tell them the following - 60 years ago you had some doctors saying cigerettes caused cancer and others that didn't. Now it was difficult to get the truth back then because of all the lies spread by the tobaco companies. However what was the intelligent thing to do? Was it to blindly believe some doctors who said it was fine or was it best to quit smoking anyway "just in case"? The same is true now for global warming, you can believe the newspapers who saying global warming isn't man made and continue as you are however what if you are wrong, is it not best to try and reduce our emmissons "just in case"? Sure it will have an economic impact however that is nothing compared to the global impact global warming will have if we continue to pollute the earth like we currently are. What shocks me is the number of people who just brush off what I havd just said and reply with "well i won't be alive in 100 years anyway so what do i care". I am totally disgusted by this attitude and I am sorry to say that I know a lot of American's who think just like this. Now I applaud Al Gore for his documentary/movie (even if the bits about him are very boring) for his efforts but I wonder to myself how we are ever going to make any progress when so many people in the worlds most powerful country do not care about the continuation of the human race anyway. Global warming to them means changing their lifestyles just a tiny bit but they won't have any of it. Now to be fair I have singled American's out here however they are not the only guilty party, I know a large number of people in the UK (where I live) as well who do not believe in global warming, thankfully the majority do and our government seems somewhat competent in this area (although they need to do a lot more).
  • by polar red (215081) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:58AM (#17537134)
    i want to remark that we have better technology now, so China needn't pollute as much as we did, and go straight to windpower/solarpower instead of using coal.
  • by sholden (12227) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:50AM (#17537412) Homepage
    You mean the model in which when you heat up water the solubility of CO2 decreases, so warmer temperatures would cause CO2 levels to increase?

    Or the one in which CO2 increases cause a greenhouse effect so increasing CO2 levels cause warmer temperatures?

  • by Decaff (42676) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:08AM (#17537500)
    Exactly correct. Everyone knows that the present of a specific scientific principle is decided by a central committee and then approved by the electorate at large. It's an excellent system, look how the Catholic church managed to keep us at the centre of universe!

    If only that were so, then science would be so much easier. Unfortunately science is judged by hundreds of independent journals and through the review of thousands of scientists, many of whom are competing for the same funding you are and so are motivated to find holes in your work. Anyone who thinks science is a friendly group of like-minded souls all patting each other on the back really hasn't a clue.
  • by merikari (205531) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:54AM (#17537810) Homepage
    January is the coldest month in Finland. Usually we have had snow cover by November/December. This year, there has been one freak snowstorm in the beginning of November, and right now it's raining outside. No snow cover for two winter months. Not your typical winter in Finland where temperatures in January can be -20 to -30 degrees Centigrade.

    Disclaimer: I know weather does not equal climate.
  • by AusIV (950840) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:19AM (#17538026)
    A critical fact in Al Gore's film: after compiling the results of 1,100 serious scientific papers about GW not one suggests that it is anything but man's fault. The percentage of journalistic articles suggesting that it may not be man's fault: 53%. This is an extremely important point
    That point, like numerous others in Gore's film, is incorrect. In attempts to reproduce the study Gore mentions, less than 2% explicitly endorse the " consensus view". This website [livjm.ac.uk] lists the 1,117 documents and abstracts Oreskes (Gore's source) claims to have analyzed in her paper. You can see for yourself that there is not a scientific consensus, at least in the ISI databses.
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:20AM (#17538036)
    Eh, no, sorry, not quite. All that Kyoto buys is more coal-powered plants for third world nations. If anything Kyoto is more likely to harm the environment, and is, in any event, more of a wealth redistribution scheme than it is an environmental management plan.

    It's also funny to note that the country which "hates the worlds children" has made bigger strides in combating GHG emissions than several Kyoto signatories.

    But hey, who needs facts and logic when you can get all your opinions from the "down with HaliBusHitler" maniacs, eh?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:26AM (#17538104)
    Coincidentally, Kyoto has not been ratified by the same country where "lower taxes!," i.e., lower taxes for me and higher taxes for my children, is the one political rallying cry that always works.

    Why the party that campaigns on lowering taxes and refusing to ratify Kyoto hates the world's children has yet to be determined.


    You seem to be suffering from a rectal-cranial inversion, let me fix that. In 1998 the US Senate(the branch of the US govt. that ratifies treaties) voted 95-0 against the treaty. Now in case you don't know there are only 100 senators in the US senate. So before you go think one party or another voted against the Kyoto treaty, actually it was both. How you managed to achieve rectal-cranial inversion has yet to be determined, but hopefully this little factoid will help reduce its occurance in the future.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:55AM (#17538488)
    Except that the Medieval Warm Period, which allowed Greenland such lush climate, is now not necessarily believed to have been global. Indeed, there is some evidence that it was mainly Europe which warmed during this period, and other parts of the world were cooler.

    (Essentially, though, this boils down to you not understanding the difference between "local" and "global".)
  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:30AM (#17538922) Homepage
    ENSO is the El Nino Southern Oscillation. If you'd like to simulate global warming and El Nino / La Nina cycles yourself you can do some of the experiments discussed in the article. The EdGCM [columbia.edu] project has wrapped a NASA global climate model (GCM) in a GUI (OS X and Win). You can add CO2 or turn the sun down by a few percent all with a checkbox and a slider. Supercomputers and advanced FORTRAN programmers are no longer necessary to run your own GCM.

    Disclaimer: I'm the project developer.
  • well no (Score:5, Informative)

    by Budenny (888916) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:45AM (#17539132)
    It was not globally the warmest year ever.

    It may have been, in North America, the warmest year, by a small amount, for a couple hundred years. Its a bit different. We have also the Holcene Warm Period, and the Medieval Warm Period to worry about, before pronouncing last year the warmest ever.

    Global warming may or may not be happening, but headlines like this do not help convince anyone.
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:25AM (#17539708) Journal
    "The Southern Hemisphere, in particular, does not seem to be warming noticeably."

    I am sitting naked in my spare room in Melbourne Australia, it is about 2:30AM and simply too hot and muggy too sleep, there is the smell of smoke from extreme bushfires that started two months early this year. Tasmania has had to import electricity from the mainland due to a lack of water in their hydro scheme, 62% of our grain harvest (~17,000,000 tons) has been lost,....oh fuck it, it's too hot to argue with an AC ludite.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @12:22PM (#17540736)
    I thought you might find this overlooked admission of error interesting. Posted in 1996.

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/releases/96/tpxerror.html [nasa.gov] [ nasa.gov]

    "Measurements of global sea-level rise from a U.S. instrument in space likely will be revised downward because of a recently discovered error in the data-processing software, mission scientists said. Initial indications are that sea-level measurements from the U.S. altimeter aboard the U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon satellite likely will agree more closely with Earth-based tide gauges, as well as with the French altimeter on the satellite. Preliminary findings from TOPEX/Poseidon data..., indicated the Earth's sea surface was rising ... more than 5 millimeters per year. Data collected from December 1992 to April 1996 have been updated and suggest that the new sea level rise estimate will be revised to 1 to 3 millimeters per year."

    The recent speculation that man is causing global warming and that sea levels will suddenly rise is the result of flawed computer models and flawed satellite data...and journalists and politicians being unprofessional. Let me review a few details with you.

    In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, convened by the United Nations, said: "No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected."

    Sea levels have oscillated on a century time scale over the past 1400 years. Professor Nils-Axel Morner, head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University and past president of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, "Observational data obtained by our international team of experts shows conclusively that the sea level is not rising." "In the last 5000 years, global mean sea level has been dominated by the redistribution of water masses over the globe. In the last 300 years, sea level has been oscillation close to the present with peak rates in the period 1890-1930. Between 1930 and 1950, sea fell. The late 20th century lack any sign of acceleration." Sea levels were 25 cm higher in 1050 (Medieval Warm Period) than in 1650 (Little Ice Age). Since 1650, sea levels have risen at an average rate of 1 mm per year, with the exception of the cool 1800s, when there was little or no rise.

    "The data does not support any sea-level rise at all. ... There is no evidence, over the last century, that suggests there will be an acceleration in sea level" -- Wolfgang Scherer, the director of Australia's National Tidal Facility at Flinder's University in Adelaide.

    Over the last 3,000 years, there have been at least 5 periods of "global warming". The Medieval Warm Period was from 800 AD to 1400 AD. It ended around 600 years ago. This was followed by the Little Ice Age that started 500 years ago and ended just over 100 years ago. Not surprisingly, Greenland just harvested its first barley in 600 years. Barley and grapes for wine were major crops in Greenland until 1400 AD.

    Don't forget to understand the influence of the Maunder minimum and thermal haline.

    According to the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, global average temperatures did not increase between 1998 and 2005. Yes, there was a period of warming between 1970 and 1998 - but there was also a similar period of warming between 1918 and 1940, well before the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1964, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate. Of the 1.5 F in warming the planet experienced over the last 150 years, two-thirds of that increase occurred between 1850 and 1940.

    The 1 degree increase in global temperature over the past century is nothing unusual. For example, the Medieval Warm Period, from A.D. 1000 to 1400, was warmer than the 20th century.

    Human activities contribute at most only 3% of carbon

  • by FranklinDelanoBluth (1041504) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @12:47PM (#17541194)

    I've seen this before, is the problem. I was raised in the US, and was taught about global warming, global hunger, acid rain, pesticide use, the evils of nuclear power, the good that is solar power, the silliness that is "gaia", species evolving to block dams, and other things that I forget at this moment. At this point, you can color me jaded and skeptical, and rightfully so. As for global warming specifically, the rhetoric I see is generally very nasty and one-sided. The US is evil, its citizens need to endure a recession/depression to save the world, etc. When the rhetoric becomes serious, rational, and includes everyone, give me a call. When you do, please stop sounding like con-artists and try to sound like rational human beings.

    Are you fucking stupid? All those things you learned about *ARE* real. It's just that the economic benefit of ignoring them made them seem ignorable.

    If there is no livable earth what good is economic prosperity? Further, how do expect to keep up economic prosperity in the conditions that will be the result of climate change (flooding, drought, monster storms, etc.)? The consumer culture that drives the modern world economy will absolutely fall apart. No one's gonna be buying luxury cars, computers, iPhones, etc. when he/she is up to his/her neck in a flood.

    What's right is not always profitable, and what's profitable is not always right. Grow up and think outside your own piggy bank.

    P.S. Though reductions of CO2 emissions could very well hurt developed nations, it will have a similar, though less obvious, effect on developing ones. Instead of bringing quality of life down, it will keep them where they are: without the cheap energy they need to develop. If this is bad, it's going to hurt everyone.

  • Re:Hard to argue (Score:3, Informative)

    by cartman (18204) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @04:27PM (#17545352)
    For years the Right in America tried to argue that there was no global warming. Finally, what was merely overwhelming research showing that there was indeed warming became impossible to argue, so now the Right tries to argue that "OK, there's global warming, but it's not our fault".

    That may be true. However, it was the left that caused the global warming, not the right. It was the left (not the right) that vociferously attacked and destroyed the nuclear power industry, which was (and is) the only viable competitor to coal-burning. Since coal-burning emits far more C02 than SUVs, I'm quite sure that the left is responsible for global warming. Indeed, if Greenpeace and UCS (Union of concerned "scientists") had never existed then the global warming problem would be far less severe than it is.

    Note that France decided to ignore Greenpeace (largely because they have no domestic fossil fuels) and they built only nuclear power plants. As a result, their C02 emissions are 85% lower than ours, per capita. Of course, they drive less too, which is a contributing factor, however their lack of coal-burning plants is the largest factor.

    China will soon (maybe a decade) have a bigger economy than ours and how are we supposed to tell them to back off from all the growth so we don't destroy our environment when we can't even get our own act together?

    We must all hope that China ignores Greenpeace and follows the path that France has laid down. Only in that way can China be prevented from becoming an ecological disaster.

    The Right-Wing in America is being used by multinationals to stall on any sort of effort to change things, so for the foreseeable future, it's going to be more of the same.

    That's a preposterous conspiracy theory. Bear in mind that the nuclear power industry is owned by large multinational corporations and that has not allowed them to save the environment from Greenpeace.

    There's just no more time to waste trying to convince people who believe the Earth is 6000 years old and that Jesus is going to come any day now to take them home that we have to act to protect the world for our grandkids.

    There is no more time to waste trying to convince Greenpeace and similar organizations that modern civilization could not be sustained by the combination of windmills and gathering leaves. Already, Greenpeace and the left have done incalculable damage to the environment. They have drastically increased C02 emissions and have endangered us all.

    Greenpeace and similar organizations publish "facts" about nuclear power that are off by a factor of a billion or more. I am not exaggerating. Several "facts" put forth by Greenpeace and other organizations (like the amount of uranium fuel remaining on Earth, or the health effects of small doses of radiation) are off by a factor of a billion or more. If the right-wingers wished to reach the same level of absurdity and crude scientific denial, they would have to claim that the Earth is only 4 years old.

    I mean really: "What about the Martian icecaps?"?? Is that the latest Investors Business Daily meme to try to keep record profits flowing into the coffers of Shell?

    Unfortunately, few people read the Investors Business Daily. On the other hand, Greenpeace goes door-to-door in its quest to destroy the environment.

I wish you humans would leave me alone.

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