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Friday, December 23, 2005

2005 One of the Hottest Years On Record

This probably won't come as much of a surprise, but analyses of the average global temperatures in 2005 released by four scientific agencies - The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; The World Meteorological Organization; and the UK's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research - all agree that 2005 was either the hottest or second-hottest year since the start of record-keeping in the late 1880s, according to a post from Green Car Congress yesterday. The 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990 (see accompanying graphic).

The assessments vary by a few hundredths of a degree. 2005 is particularly interesting becuase Unlike 1998 - the previous winner of the 'hottest year on record' honors - 2005 had no strong El Niño to warm ocean waters, which affects temperatures worldwide.

While average temperatures are warmer across the globe, the largest temperature anomalies were found throughout high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere and included much of Russia, Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska. During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 1.1º F/Century (0.6º C/Century), but the rate of temperature increase has been three times larger since 1976, with some of the largest temperature increases occurring in the high latitudes.

The higher temperatures disrupted weather patterns and were likely responsible for a number of localized climate anomalies throughout the world. The map below, prepared by NOAA, presents the significant climate anomalies and events across the glove and does so in a manner that makes both the widespread nature of such anomalies as well as their diversity immediately evident:

The diversity of these anomalies serves to illustrate how the popular moniker 'Global Warming' is both a little misleading - some regions may end up cooler rather than warmer - as well as a poor descriptor for the diversity of events and effects that result from higher average temperatures. This is why 'Global Climate Change' ought to be the appropriate term for such phenomena and I am dissapointed to see the term 'Global Warming' used even in scientific articles.

Green Car Congress has more on the results of each of the four studies and Real Climate has a discussion of the 2005 temps here.

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