Saturday, December 06, 2008

Okay, 2008 Was Cooler

The global warming denial rabble will be all over this like flies on.. well, you know. 2008 was the coolest year since we entered this century. It was actually 0.14C below the average.

Before they get their pretty brains in overdrive screaming that the IPCC is a fraud they should speak to la Nina, the ugly stepsister of el Nino, the two central Pacific phenomena that impact weather patterns around the world. Oops, I gave it away there. I used the word "weather."

That's right, this isn't about climate, it's about weather. Live anywhere along the Pacific Rim and you get to know el Nino and la Nina really well because of the way they transform our weather patterns. They actually affect most of the planet's weather but the further away from the Pacific, the less people are aware of them. From The Guardian:

Prof Myles Allen at Oxford University who runs the website, said he feared climate sceptics would overinterpret the figure. "You can bet your life there will be a lot of fuss about what a cold year it is. Actually no, its not been that cold a year, but the human memory is not very long, we are used to warm years," he said, "Even in the 80s [this year] would have felt like a warm year."

The Met Office predicted at the beginning of the year that 2008 would be cooler than recent years because of a La Niña event - characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It is the mirror image of the El Niño climate cycle. The Met Office had forecast an annual global average of 14.37C.

And, of course, there's cool and then there's cool. It's all relative and even though 2008 has had a slight blip downward, the picture looks a lot different when you consider it in the perspective of climate, not weather:

Allen was presenting the data on this year's global average temperature at the Appleton Space Conference at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Didcot yesterday. The 14.3C figure is based on data from January to October. When the Met Office makes its formal announcement next week they will incorporate data from November. "[The figure] will differ from it, but it won't differ massively," said Stott, "We would expect the number to go up rather than down because the early parts of the year were still under the La Niña conditions."

Assuming the final figure is close to 14.3C then 2008 will be the tenth hottest year on record. The hottest was 1998 - which included a very strong El Niño event - followed by 2005, 2003 and 2002. The data are a combination of measurements from satellites, ground weather stations and buoys which are compiled jointly by the Hadley Centre and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

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