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NASA Says 2010 Tied For Warmest Year On Record 554

Posted by timothy
from the try-the-sunscreen-it's-delicious dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It may not seem like it, but 2010 has tied 2005 as the warmest year since people have been keeping records, according to data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. That difference is so small that it puts them in a statistical tie. In the new analysis, the next warmest years are 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007, which are statistically tied for third warmest year. The GISS records begin in 1880." Adds jamie: "This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average — 0.62 +/- 0.07 C above, to be precise. It was the wettest year on record too, according to the Global Historical Climatology Network."
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NASA Says 2010 Tied For Warmest Year On Record

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  • Not so frosty piss (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SoupGuru (723634)
    Let the flamewar begin!
    • by altoz (653655)

      are you implying there will be a war due to global warming?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054)

      Not much to flame about since I stopped reading TFA as soon as I saw "James Hansen" mentioned as the source.

  • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:40PM (#34869406)

    NASA also put out a piece comparing different findings by different organizations, [nasa.gov] explaining the differences and why they aren't a big deal. The articles also states that year-to-year measures aren't particularly useful - not only are 2010 and 2005 very close, but the next six are also very similar to each other - but looking at it decade by decade (i.e. a larger sample size) gives far more meaning:

    On that time scale, the three records are unequivocal: the last decade has been the warmest on record. “It’s not particularly important whether 2010, 2005, or 1998 was the hottest year on record,” said Hansen. "It is the underlying trend that is important."

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Are averages even the best measure?

      Sure, so we're getting more energy from the sun. Which means more heat, which makes air rise, and suck in cold air from the polar regions.

      Thus, we have the polar regions rapidly heating up in not-so-statistically-insignificant terms of 5 - 10 degrees. And record unseasonably cold and hot flashes in the temperate regions in between.

      There must be some measure other than an averaged thermometer readings that is actually meaningful in this context. Insert joke about hospita

  • by emt377 (610337) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:47PM (#34869498)
    It gets hot, steamy, wet and wild!!!
  • It was the wettest year on record. There you have it folks, Global Warming is an answer to our Fresh Water needs.
  • Yeah, but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by W0lfRaven (1879918) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:51PM (#34869598)
    Here's the temperature plotted over the last 32 years http://reason.com/blog/2011/01/06/global-temperature-trend-upate [reason.com] not as dramatic as you might think.
    • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kenja (541830) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:04PM (#34869804)
      Looks pretty dramatic and alarming to me, about a +0.4c average increase across the time frame.
      • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by St.Creed (853824) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:20PM (#34870012)

        Type "global warming" into Wolfram Alpha and limit the graphic to 100 years, 50 years and 10 years. You get an increase of 0.7C, 1.44C and somewhere between -0.8 and +0.6C. Depending on your starting point, the trend may be misleading. The one with a range of 500 years and 100 years are pretty alarming though.

        Also, people massively tend to underestimate the amount of energy to warm up an entire planetary atmosphere by this amount. 0.4C looks small, until you calculate the amount of energy necessary to heat up an *entire planet*. It's like a massive juggernaut - once it rolls, it's going to take a lot to stop it.

        • by Twanfox (185252)

          Personally, I'd be concerned with what happens when all the permafrost and polar ice/glaciers melt. Have you seen the temperature graph of a glass of melting ice water? While everything is frozen, the temp rises with the energy input. When you hit the melting point, the temperature rises very little for the energy input, as all that energy is going into phase changing ice into water. Once that ice is all melted, though, the temperature rise returns to mirror that of the pre-melting glass, quickly matching t

          • by St.Creed (853824)

            If you want disturbing, consider the melting of subsurface methane-ice concentrates. Methane is an excellent greenhouse gas, and a lot of methane is stored in ice. Once that melts, you could have a situation where more and more methane gets into the air, leading to more and more ice melting, until we run out of ice. But by then, we could be in a huge amount of trouble in a very short timeperiod, and not much you can do about it either.

            Prevention is half the cure for some ills, but in this case it could well

  • by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:54PM (#34869660) Journal
    without some idea of the error in the measurments, hard to tell what a change of x deg F means
    • by goodmanj (234846) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:16PM (#34869954)

      The actual data this press release is based on is here [nasa.gov].

      Versions of this data released to the media generally don't include error bars, though they should. But the methodology is the same as Hansen's 2006 paper [nasa.gov]:

      "Estimated 2-sigma error (95% confidence) in comparing nearby years of global temperature (Fig. 1A), such as 1998 and 2005, decreases from 0.1C at the beginning of the 20th century to 0.05C in recent decades (4)."

      Thus, the data errors are just a little smaller than the year-to-year variations, but are far, far smaller than the century-long trend. Which is why Hansen stresses that it doesn't really matter exactly which year is the hottest on record: what matters is how this decade stacks up to the rest of the 20th century.

  • Summary is wrong: the difference was actually 0.018 degrees Rankine, not Fahrenheit.

    Sheesh, don't these article-summary writers know anything about Science...?

  • ... and somehow people who are all up in arms about global warming think that this is representative of what the earth's climate is actually like?

    Do these people have any idea how old the Earth actually is?

  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:04PM (#34869806)

    Thank God man-made global warming was proven to be a hoax. Just imagine what the world might have looked like now if those conspiring scientists had been telling the truth. No doubt Nasa would be telling us that this year is now the hottest since humans began keeping records. The weather satellites would show that even when heat from the sun significantly dipped earlier this year, the world still got hotter. Russia's vast forests would be burning to the ground in the fiercest drought they have ever seen, turning the air black in Moscow, killing 15,000 people, and forcing foreign embassies to evacuate. Because warm air holds more water vapour, the world's storms would be hugely increasing in intensity and violence – drowning one fifth of Pakistan, and causing giant mudslides in China.

    The world's ice sheets would be sloughing off massive melting chunks four times the size of Manhattan. The cost of bread would be soaring across the world as heat shrivelled the wheat crops. The increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be fizzing into the oceans, making them more acidic and so killing 40 per cent of the phytoplankton that make up the irreplaceable base of the oceanic food chain.

    Oh, wait.....

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by H0p313ss (811249)

      The problem is that by the time we have enough evidence to convince everybody that there is a problem it will be far, far too late to do anything about it.

      You have to remember that we live in a world where most people still believe in the supernatural, where people in power still consider prayer to be of value and where people still go around killing each other because they disagree about invisible beings with superpowers.

      Trying to convince everyone is a pointless waste of effort. We need to find ways of ma

  • I dare say we didn't have a proper summer... and may indeed be having a proper winter.

  • by chromozone (847904) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:17PM (#34869974)

    NASA, GISS and James Hansen have been busted before (by amateurs) for being wrong several times :

    Deja Vu All Over Again: Blogger Again Finds Error in NASA Climate Data

    NASA'S Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is one of the world's primary sources for climate data. GISS issues regular updates on world temperatures based on their analysis of temperature readings from thousands of monitoring stations over the globe.

    GISS’ most recent data release originally reported last October as being extraordinarily warm-- a full 0.78C above normal. This would have made it the warmest October on record; a huge increase over the previous month's data.

    Those results set off alarm bells with Steve McIntyre and his gang of Baker Street irregulars at Climateaudit.org. They noted that NASA's data didn't agree at all with the satellite temperature record, which showed October to be very mild, continuing the same trend of slight cooling that has persisted since 1998. So they dug a little deeper.

    An alert reader on McIntyre's blog revealed that there was a very large problem. Looking at the actual readings from individual stations in Russia showed a curious anomaly. The locations had all been assigned the exact temperatures from a month earlier-- the much warmer month of September. Russia cools very rapidly in the fall months, so recycling the data from the earlier month had led to a massive temperature increase.

    A few locations in Ireland were also found to be using September data..

    Steve McIntyre informed GISS (run by Hansen) of the error by email. According to McIntyre, there was no response, but within "about an hour", GISS pulled down the erroneous data, citing a "mishap" and pointing the finger of blame upstream to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)."

    http://www.dailytech.com/Article.aspx?newsid=13410&red=y#366381 [dailytech.com]

    NOAA has been singled out for calling 2010 the warmest year using faulty data

    NOAA’s Jan-Jun 2010 Warmest Ever: Missing Data, False Impressions

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/17/noaas-jan-jun-2010-warmest-ever-missing-data-false-impressions/ [wattsupwiththat.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      readings from individual stations in Russia showed a curious anomaly. The locations had all been assigned the exact temperatures from a month earlier-- the much warmer month of September.

      That was two years ago, it was not NASA who made the mistake and it was quickly corrected. Why are you trying to mislead readers about this?

    • by Xyrus (755017) on Friday January 14, 2011 @12:19AM (#34873668) Journal

      Actually, data errors are NOAA's fault as they're the ones providing the raw data. The mistakes usually get corrected on their own when the records are reviewed (such as when the hurricane season gets reviewed at the end of the season). Most errors may not get discovered for awhile, as they are not used to make a sensationalized public release.

      But McIntyre and Watts like to play the conspiracy card, and either encourage (or at the very least don't discourage or correct) erroneous data/conclusions of their own or that of their participants. Every single mistake is vindication for them and their audience. It's all the proof they need to mischaracterize the thousands of climate scientists in the world as evil, money-grubbing, fascist socialist bastards bent on world domination.

      Basically they do the same thing the IDers do to the theory of evolution, only with less Jesus. Every now and again they discover an error, which is good because it makes the science that much better. But they have yet to do anything meaningful in discrediting the current body of climate science. The papers I know about authored by McIntyre on the subject have been ripped to shreds. Their collective postulations about weather stations was thoroughly debunked (though, of course, they continues to deny it). Most of their other arguments that I've seen in the climate community have been torn apart piece by piece by experts in the field.

      It's possible to be a skeptic without being an asshole. I work with a few skeptics. We have interesting conversations ranging from analytical methods to atmospheric dynamics. But the only time McIntyre and Watts are brought up is when we either want to laugh or when we want to point out how NOT to do something.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>Their collective postulations about weather stations was thoroughly debunked

        Postulations are just a theory. ;)

        But seriously, the temperature station project was worthwhile, and various (real) papers have credited Watts for his work. He *guessed* that fixing problems with the weather stations would disprove global warming, and was wrong, but that doesn't mean that the work that he and a bunch of volunteers did was meaningless. It's always better to have empirical data on things than trying to heurist

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