P!Npoints: 2010 tied heat records

For the year, it was on par with sweltering 1998

While snowy, icy winter weather has taken center stage in much of the United States this December, possibly the most important weather story of 2010 is just how hot it became.

In October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Data Center reported that the year-to-date average temperatures across the world were tied for the warmest land and ocean temperatures on record. The same period in 2010 saw a combined land-and-sea temperature average of 58.67 F, the mark reached at the same point in 1998. This year’s average land and ocean temperatures, taken independently in the January-September period, were the second highest on record, behind on those in 2007 and 1998, respectively. NOAA records date back to the 1880s, and all 2010 data is considered preliminary.

In November, the Climate Data Center saw information that remained consistent with the trend, as October 2010 was the eight-warmest ever recorded, almost a full degree warmer than the 20th-century average temperature in Fahrenheit. This was consistent with September, also the eight-warmest on record.

Though the fall’s temperatures were higher than the historical average, it was the past spring that helped 2010 set records. In March, the global average land and sea temperature was the warmest on record, at 56.3 F. April’s average, 58.1 F, also set records. At 58.6 F, May also set records for the 130 years of monitored global average temperatures.

In June, the Climate Data Center saw the highest global average for the month on record, at 61.1 F. July was only the second warmest on record, behind 1998, but global average temperatures reached 61.6 F. August 2010 was the third-warmest year-to-year August on record, behind only 1998 and 2009.

In an early December, in an Agence France Presse article, World Meteorological Organization Secretary General Michel Jarraud was quoted as saying, “2010 is almost certain to be in the top three warmest years on record. It is probably the warmest one up to October-November. …The decade from 2001 to 2010 has set a new record, it will be the warmest decade ever since we have records.”

Jarraud said that the temperatures were a call to action on enacting policies curbing climate change.
“This is the (scientific) foundation to say where we are now, these are the facts,” he said. “Of course, if nothing is done, this curve will go on increasing and increasing, it will go up and up.”
While not as record-setting as the spring, the summer produced some notable temperature extremes. According to NOAA’s National Weather Service, Los Angeles set a new all-time high temperature for the area on Sept. 27 when temperatures reached 113 F, surpassing the previous record set in June 1990.

In the southern hemisphere, though, conditions were different. According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, the country had its coolest maximum temperatures in that month since 1984.

Though high temperatures were the trend earlier in the year, the winter season could actually bring colder-than-average temperatures in some parts of the United States, according to NOAA. The Pacific Northwest and northern plains states will likely see colder and wetter temperatures than normal, according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, because of a moderate to strong La Niña. The rest of the United States should expect higher-than-average winter temperatures, according to the report.

For more information, or to read the Climate Data Center’s reports, visit http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global.