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2006 Was the Warmest Year Ever 782

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!
    • There's snow there now. Not as much as they'd like, but enough to allow people to Ski and Board without problem. I'm off to Meribel, France on Saturday and currently there's 100cm on the upper slopes and 40cm on the lower ones (see you there if you're going, unless you're a skier).

      I reckon it'll be back to normal next year, but hopefully the world is sitting up and taking notice to the warning it's been given that things need to change.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AlXtreme ( 223728 )
        Indeed. I'm off to Serre-Chevalier myself on Friday, with 90cm/25cm it isn't perfect. Even so, most of the slopes are open and they're expecting a bit of snow over the next few days, so it'll be okay. GP is a bit alarmist.

        Happy boarding! Besides, if it turns out bad we can always go to Norway next year...

    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:59AM (#17536802) Journal
      No, the bulk of the snow is on the eastern side of the divide (i.e. denver). The snow is maybe a bit above average for this time of year (but the snow is nice). If you want lots of snow, try the northwest.

      As to the airport closure, it was actually only closed for 36 hrs for the first storm only. On the second storm, airlines assumed a closure would happen and flights were manipulated. As it was, the airport never closed. The storm hit hard to the south east. Had the storm moved just 41 miles north, then most likely DIA would have been closed for 48 hours or more.

      But in my 25 years of living in Colorado, this is the first time that I have seen this much snow on the ground at this time of year. It reminds me of xmas in south wisc (which actually had no snow).
    • here in NRW we have +12C. This is the temperature of mid-autumn, not of midwinter.
    • Not just hotter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wrmrxxx ( 696969 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:11AM (#17536874)
      In the Victorian Alps (south eastern Australia) the ski season was a dismal flop due to lack of snow. Due to the drought there wasn't enough water for snow making either. But on Christmas day (which is summer here of course), there was a large snow storm up in the mountains: more snow than there was during winter. My entirely unscientific impression of the recent weather is not just that it's getting hotter - it's getting weirder.
      • 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 Khammurabi ( 962376 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:02AM (#17539364)
          This just shows that people don'r really understand what global warming means.
          Most people erroneously lump global warming together as both the cause and effect. More clearly stated, "Global Warming" is the term that aptly describes humanity as producing an inordinate amount of greenhouse gases, which in turn is allowing the earth to trap much more of the sun's rays and converting them into heat. Whereas "Global Climate Change" is the likely effect of this process.

          - Fact: Humanity is producing a considerable amount of greenhouse gases.
          - Fact: Greenhouse gases cause more sunlight to be converted into heat.

          Here is where the discussion usually breaks down into fisticuffs. We do know that this unnatural stress on the environment (global warming) will cause the global climate to change. However, we do NOT know exactly what will happen in response to this stress. In the past, global warming was a gradual process, as flora and fauna produce greenhouse gases naturally at a much reduced rate. This time the stress is acute, and we have no real past historical basis to predict what will happen.

          Personally, I'm with the scientists on this one. (That this is most likely a "bad thing".) Earth has a nasty habit of responding with mass extinctions whenever it gets hit with something big and bad. However, there is a slim possibility that the earth will just "get warmer", which is not entirely a bad thing, but would make dwindling fresh water supplies a real cause for war and conflict.

          So to sum up, "global warming" will most likely cause "global climate change". However, we don't know what exactly will change, but it's likely it'll be bad for us.
    • I don't recall off the top of my head where I read it (it was just within the last week or so, possibly Scientific American?), but it is predicted that a warmer earth will trade 5,000 more heat-related deaths for 20,000 fewer cold-related deaths.
    • He is right. My cousin works at Schladming ski resort, which is near Dachstein, and in December they sent him home for 2 weeks because there was not enough snow to make it worth being open. Here in the valley it has only snowed twice this winter, and both times for maybe 3 hours at most--and it was all melted within a few hours later. As I am writing this it is 17 degrees C (62,4 degrees F) and it has not been 0C for maybe 3 weeks--even then it was only a day or two. If anyone seriously thinks it is not war
  • 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 []. 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.
    • So? Here in Sydney, Australia it's been the coldest December for a long time. Stats from one spot in the world is pretty much meaningless in an immensely complex system like Earth's weather!
    • 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.
  • Pollute more (Score:5, Informative)

    by Swimport ( 1034164 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:58AM (#17536796) Homepage
    If it wasnt for Global Dimming [] this would be worse. However, since particulate pollution is being cut more than C02 global dimming is falling behind global warming.
  • Could this really be avoided? Is it still time to revert those climate changes?
    Shouldn't we be preparing for the worse yet?
    Instead of deciding whether or not it's really happening ?
    • worst case scenario: end of the world
      prepare for the worst: try and get some end-of-the world-petty-sex

      So long, suckers!
    • by stsp ( 979375 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:17AM (#17536916) Homepage
      Could this really be avoided? Is it still time to revert those climate changes? Shouldn't we be preparing for the worse yet? Instead of deciding whether or not it's really happening ?
      Well, according to Douglas Adams' stories, people start to panic only when it is already way too late to do something about the situation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DrMrLordX ( 559371 )
      I would have to say yes. After all, global warming may now be unstoppable []. We need to find ways to survive the coming climate changes, and fast.
  • I just watched "An inconvenient truth" yesterday. It was the creepiest film I ever watched, way scarier then "The Shining" or "The Ring". I hope most of you out there, have seen it already... I the film Al Gore shows multiple graphs illustrating the drastic changes in the climate - due to our smoking and scorching of Earth - in the last few decades. 2005 was the warmest year, now 2006 bits that questionable record. Are we all running towards the flames of self-destruction? I would say we are all to blame he
    • Well, come on... 2005 was the warmest year on record. Sure, it was the hottest our planet has been for thousands of years, but what year held the previous record... 2004! Which in turn beat out 2003!

      Oddly enough, with the combined effect of the El Nino and the extra warming this year this 2007 is pretty much a lock to wipe out the 2006 record now established. However, it might actually be so warm as to make 2008 fail to take the record.
    • make our children proud of this spineless generation.

  • by reklusband ( 862215 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:13AM (#17536884)
    Think about it...Hot Eskimo chicks in BIKINIS!!! Just give it ten years.
  • It's summer here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:28AM (#17536968)
    weather not seen on the planet since before the Ice Age began, 118,000 years ago.
    Indeed. Southern hemisphere here and this is the first summer I *haven't* had to turn on the chiller on my aquariums to stop my fish from dying - it's been nowhere near as hot as it normally is.
  • Too late.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    I wonder why people start to worry about our environment now, when even 20 years ago it was obvious that something like that will happen.

    But now, when it begins to get really expensive (think about damages caused by hurricanes, floodings etc.), people start to care. Before that, the attitude was "Uhh, greenhouse effect? Doesn't concern me, as long as I can live like I used to."

    It's almost too late..
  • by j3w ( 860785 )
    Despite the fact that this is the warmest year since we've started keeping track, I do believe we are still geologically below the average temperature of the earth overall. I would never argue that we don't contribute to the warming of our current era, but to what extent is and probably always will be pretty inconclusive. We should be careful when we make these comparisons, and realize that even without our help the earth will be both warmer and cooler than it is now at different points in the future. So th
  • his blog is the best source on the net for in-depth weather analysis
    O Rly? Scoured the entire Internet, have ya kpw10 []? Please. I think we can have an intelligent discussion on this topic without resorting to such idiotic claims for the sake of "proving" the "value" of one's source by aggrandizing it.
  • Solution! (Score:4, Funny)

    by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:39AM (#17537366)
    Global warming is making everything hotter, ice is melting, seas are rising. We're all in deep doodo. Now, back in the 80's we were all panicking about Nuclear Winters which would freeze us all in the case of a nuclear war (as if the radiation and big holes in the ground weren't enough hassle).
    I notice in the news that Israel is thought to be preparing a nuclear strike on Irans nuclear facilities with Neutron bombs. That ought to kick of a nuclear war quite nicely so we're all saved!
    Well, it sort of makes sense...
  • It has been ridiculously warm here in New York this winter. It is NEVER warm in new york in the winter. The last few days it has gotten mildly cold, but up until then, it has been almost spring like. It is simply amazing how different the weather has been this winter here in the north east.

    This is the warmest winter i've ever experienced here in NY in 30 years.

  • Correlation does not prove causation. Yes, this is skeptical, and I am for environmental protection, but I must add that even 118,000 years of data does not even begin to understand the climate of an Earth that is millions of years old. There is no way to truly test global warming as variables cannot be isolated. ------------- What would a longitudinal study to test global warming entail?
  • The boss of Chrysler [] is questioning the climate change

    From the article he attacks the ""quasi-hysterical" policies that smacked of "Chicken Little" politics - referring to the US children's story where Chicken Little runs around in circles saying "the sky is falling"."/i>

    The point I would like to note on this subject is that in the uk (london) the workers struggled to put the christmas lights up arround the tree that would normally be leafless were still in full leaf. In my garden plants that haven
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:52AM (#17537798) Homepage
    I'm looking at you Microsoft.
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:58AM (#17537838)
    The pattern I see from those in the denial business is not one of serious honest skepticism, but of cheap shots, hazy generalizations, unsupported assertions, cherry picking research data out of context etc. There is no new facts that they wish to present. They only wish to undermine the facts of human influence on climate change.

    To counter information about melting glaciers they will point out that certain parts of Greenland has accumulating glaciers, but they leave out the information that this was predicted as the edges of the glacier melt more rapidly and result in more snowfall inland. The also leave out that there is still a net loss.

    Another ridiculous claim was that 1998 was the hottest year and we have not been getting hotter since and therefore climate models are broken (I saw this in a newspaper article in the last few months) It neglects that 1998 had a strong El Nino and thus was somewhat anomalous, and that 2005 was as hot or even hotter than 1998 (depending on data, google hottest year on record) or that 2006 was quite warm and turns out it will now have the record.

    Bottom Line: We dump billions of tons of C02 (heat trapping gas) into the atmosphere annually and it is accumulating. How could this not be having an effect? Wishful thinking?

    I think we owe to future generations to at least make an effort to slow the damage we are doing.

    Higher energy taxes, more renewables, more nuclear plants, higher CAFE standards would be a start. The climate deniers will whine that this might cost the economy $$$, but seriously do you really think it will be that much of a net cost, how about the Trillion dollars spent on misadventures in Iraq? Would it cost more than that?

    Consider the trade deficit benefits of importing less oil, the price for oil would probably drop along with this further improving the deficit. Conservation efforts will have offsetting economic benefits. Putting money into locally constructed nuclear or renewables is money kept in country and not sent out to purchase oil from volatile regions.

    Until we find Earth 2, we need to treat Earth 1 with a tad more respect.
  • Ever? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:25AM (#17538082) Journal
    The Earth is 4 Billion years old. This talks about the weather over the last 120 thousand years.
    That is 0.003 percent of the age of the Earth.

    Maybe they should look a little farther back. Maybe 4 Million years. Of course, if we want to look at the last 1% of the age of the Earth, we would have to look back 40 Million years.

    The fact is, the climate over the last 120 thousand years could be the exception and not the rule.
    • Re:Ever? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:58AM (#17539318) Journal
      Your argument is that our data are statistically insignificant. Your general position, I assume, is that people should be rational and not panic. I agree with the latter but the former is a flawed argument.

      Much of the planet's 4 billion years has been spent in a slow process of stabilization. Complex life is relatively recent (and therefore, you would say, "statistically insignificant"). Human existence is even less statistically significant among all life. However, the conditions for human life have been favourable during this "statistically insignificant" period. So it ~is~ a reasonable inquiry to analyze this period and conclude that something is changing in what we can prove has been relatively constant for us and other creatures.

      Since I doubt that you breathe car exhaust and eat plastics, I assume you understand the threat to the environment and biodiversity that 6-8-10 billion humans represent, that the collapse of the food chain is no fantasy, and that man-made pollutants have permeated the biosphere.

      There are several points of interdependency between living things and climate. We are affecting both in ways that must be evident to people who give themselves the trouble to think, observe, and read. It is reasonable to conclude that human activity is at least a significant contributing factor in any remarkable change, because our impact on the environment has been significant.

      There are planetary processes that we cannot control. But we are affecting things that affect planetary processes.

  • by Darth Daver ( 193621 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:36AM (#17538240)
    And by "Ever" we mean since the 1860's, which is the limit of accurate records. If you try to estimate temperatures based upon other data (gases in ice core samples, tree rings, etc.), there were years warmer than this one including the medieval period and a time when the arctic circle was tropical, long before SUVs.
  • Analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Metasquares ( 555685 ) <> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:11AM (#17538660) Homepage
    Let's say that instead of climate change, a large meteor was headed for the planet in, say, 2029. Would we argue for twenty years over whether mankind's radio emissions (or whatever) caused the meteor to near the earth or would we try to think up ways of doing something about it?

    I personally think that climate change is caused by increased CO2 emissions from human industry because all of the theory supports it, but it honestly doesn't matter. We have a major problem. We can either point fingers endlessly like a bunch of 5 year olds, or we can try to solve it before it becomes a catastrophe.
  • 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 [] 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.
  • Here in Maine... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Civil_Disobedient ( 261825 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:31AM (#17538934)
    This has been one of the weakest winters on record. Simultaneously, last Spring was one of the wettest on record. Don't know if there's any correlation between the two of those, but I do know that it's been in the 50s (F) for a few days this week, which is simply insane. We've had perhaps two miserly snowfalls (less than a couple of inches accumulated). The average temperature for December was up 10 degrees from the average.

    From the National Weather Service:

    The average temperature of 34.5 degrees tied 1996 as the second warmest December on record. The warmest December was 34.8 degrees in 2001. In contrast, the coldest December was in 1989 with an average temperature of 14.1 degrees. Normally December has as average of 27.6 degrees.
    The average high temperature for the month was a record 43.3 degrees. The old record was 42.8 degrees in 1953. The coldest high temperature was 24.7 degrees in 1989 and the normal December average high temperature is 36.4 degrees.
    The average low temperature for the month was 25.6 degrees, warm enough to be the 3rd warmest on record. The warmest average low temperature was 27.8 degrees in 1996 followed by 26.8 degrees in 2001. The coldest average low temperature was 3.4 degrees in 1989 and the normal December average low temperature is 18.7 degrees.
    The temperature never got below zero degrees in December. In fact, the coldest reading was only 9 degrees and that didn't occur until the last day of the month.
    The warmest temperature for the month was 61 degrees on the 1st.
    I'm going to have to move to Canada if I ever want to see a white Christmas again.
  • 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.

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry