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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

2010 Warmest Year On Record, Says NASA & NOAA

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The news is in and it isn’t good.  Despite a strong La Nina during the second half of the year and cold air able to escape the Arctic and affect Europe and the eastern U.S., 2010 was the warmest year since 1880.

The top-10 warmest years in the NASA record are now:

2010, 2005 (actually 0.018°F less than 2010), 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2004 and 2001.

9 out of the 10 warmest years on record have now all occurred since 2002.  The 12 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997.  Global warming has not stopped.  Global warming will not stop unless and until we stop polluting the climate system with greenhouse gas emissions at a tiny fraction of our current pace.

NOAA has put together their annual global report, which acts as confirmation of the NASA result: 2010 is statistically tied with 2005 as the warmest year in their dataset.

To the climate zombies that infest the discussion over what to do about global warming, consider the following: 2010 was “only” 1.12°F (0.62°C) above the 20th century average of 59.0°F.  Our current emissions trajectory is closest to the A1FI emissions scenario in the IPCC’s SRES family.  Results of running that scenario through climate models produced the following results: best estimate temperature rise of 7.2°F with a likely range of 4.3 to 11.5°F (4.0 °C with a likely range of 2.4 to 6.4 °C).

Multiple extreme weather events also characterized 2010 and continue to do so in early 2011.  From a heat wave worse than any seen in the past few thousand years across eastern Europe and Russia that claimed many lives and spawned massive wildfires to related Pakistani floods that affected tens of millions of people to floods in Australia that cover more area than several countries in Europe, loaded die are starting to land.  The costs of these disasters already reach into the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars.  If these kinds of horrific events are already occurring with only 1.12°F warming, what will happen when the globe warms by an average of 4.3°F, 7.2°F, or even 11.5°F?  It can be summed up simply: stress will move beyond impacting disparate societies; our civilizations will be stressed to breaking points, to say nothing of ecosystems across the planet.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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3 thoughts on “2010 Warmest Year On Record, Says NASA & NOAA

  1. Indeed- you are so right. The stress that will gradually come about on the environment will have severe effects on the ability to produce enough food to feed a rapidly increasing world population. It will perhaps be the one factor that will cause a severe reduction in the world population, due to hunger and disease.

    • Good point. The situation might be more dire than what you describe, however. The biggest risk associated with something like global warming is some changes occur very rapidly. It’s not like the same number of species experience the same amount of additional stress for each tenth of a degree of warming. Instead, most species are fine for a few tenths of a degree, but their populations crash to critical levels past a certain point. Since we don’t have any prior information about where those points are or how the stress changes beyond those points, we’re operating with what really amounts to unacceptable levels of risk. One year, there will be enough food; the next year, there will not be. Nobody can adequately plan for that scenario.

  2. Pingback: Northeastern Canada 38°F Warmer Than Usual For An Entire Month This Winter « Weatherdem’s Weblog

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