University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists John Christy and
Roy Spencer report the latest global temperature trends from
satellite data. In their year-end roundup, Christy notes that
…was the warmest year on record for both the contiguous 48
U.S. states and for the continental U.S., including Alaska. For the
U.S., 2012 started with one of the three warmest Januaries in the
34-year record, saw a record-setting March heat wave, and stayed
warm enough for the rest of the year to set a record.
Compared to seasonal norms, March 2012 was the warmest month on
record in the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Temperatures over the U.S.
averaged 2.82 C (almost 5.1° Fahrenheit) warmer than normal in
March; the warmest spot on the globe that month was in northern
Iowa. The annual average temperature over the conterminous 48
states in 2012 was 0.555 C (about 0.99 degrees F) warmer than
With regard to global average temperatures, 2012 was only the
ninth warmest year amongst the last 34 years….
…with an annual global average temperature that was 0.161 C
(about 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 30-year baseline
average, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric
science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The
University of Alabama in Huntsville. 2012 was about three
one-hundredths of a degree C warmer than 2011, but was 0.23 C
cooler than 2010.
Eleven of the 12 warmest years in the satellite temperature
record have been been since 2001. From 2001 to the present only
2008 was cooler than the long-term norm for the globe. Despite that
string of warmer-than-normal years, there has been no measurable
warming trend since about 1998. The long-term warming trend
reported in the satellite data is calculated using data beginning
on Nov. 16, 1978.
Although the warmest years have occurred in recent years,
Christy pointed out last month that
global average temperatures have been essentially flat since
Since 2002, there has been a plateau of relatively warmer
temperatures with only 12 months when the global average
temperature was cooler than the long-term seasonal norm. In fact,
compared to the 30-year temperature baseline, the most recent five
years (12/07-11/12) averaged only 0.003 C (0.173 to 0.176 above
seasonal norms) warmer than the preceding five years (12/02-11/07).
The long term 0.14 C per decade warming trend measured by
microwave sounding units on a series of satellites is consistent
with the low-end of global climate change predictions made by some
climate models; it is also within the potential range of natural
climate variability, especially since most of the warming happened
over such a short period of time.
Below are the newest data updated through December, 2012:Go here to
see the monthly satellite data.
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