While our attention is certainly focused toward the ongoing disaster in the Gulf, CO2 continues to build in our atmosphere, and the planet continues to warm. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration May 2010 was the warmest May on record, and the periods January through May and March through May, 2010 were the warmest comparable periods on record.
Worldwide average land surface temperature for May and March-May was the warmest on record while the global ocean surface temperatures for both May and March-May were second warmest on record, behind 1998.
The above graph shows areas that were warmer than average (red) and cooler than average (blue). We can see that some areas, like the Western U.S. and areas of South America, were cooler than average, most of the globe was warmer. In some places lots warmer. Greenland, and a good part of Norther Europe and Russia were 4-5 degrees Celsius above average.
And this points out one of the big problems in talking about global warming or climate change. We experience the weather every day, and when our personal experience doesn’t align with the big picture, it becomes harder for us to believe. I live in Northern California, where it has been an unusually cold May and June. Last night I was at my nieces high school graduation (outdoors) and we were COLD.
Over the winter, friends of mine argued that the big snow falls on the East Coast proved that global warming wasn’t real.
But there is a difference between the weather, which is local and short term, and climate changes which are long term and global in scope. And what is happening globlally?
Each of the 10 warmest average global temperatures recorded since 1880 have occurred in the last fifteen years. The warmest year-to-date on record, through May, was 1998, and 2010 is warmer so far (note: although 1998 was the warmest year through May, a late-year warm surge in 2005 made that year the warmest total year). Analysis by the National Climatic Data Center reveals that May of 2010 was the warmest global average for that month on record, and is also the warmest year-to-date from January to May
A cold May in California, or big snows in Virginia doesn’t change any of this
Some additional facts from the study:
- The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for May was the warmest on record, at 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average of 58.6°F (14.8°C).
- The global land surface temperature for May was 1.87°F (1.04°C) above the 20th century average of 52.0°F (11.1°C) — the warmest on record.
- The May worldwide ocean temperature was the second warmest on record, behind 1998. The temperature anomaly was 0.99°F (0.55°C) above the 20th century average of 61.3°F (16.3°C).
- Warm temperatures were present over most of the globe’s land areas. The warmest temperature anomalies occurred in eastern North America, eastern Brazil, Eastern Europe, southern Asia, eastern Russia, and equatorial Africa. The Chinese province of Yunnan had its warmest May since 1951. Numerous locations in Ontario, Canada had their warmest May on record.
- Anomalously cool conditions were present across western North America, northern Argentina, interior Asia, and Western Europe. Germany had its coolest May since 1991 and its 12th coolest May on record.