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Alarmist Predictions

From: NASA, GISS, December 16, 2008

GISS Surface Temperature Analysis

Global Temperature Trends: 2008 Annual Summation

Originally posted Dec. 16, 2008, with meteorological year data. Updated Jan. 13, 2009, with calendar year data.

Calendar year 2008 was the coolest year since 2000, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis [see ref. 1] of surface air temperature measurements. In our analysis, 2008 is the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880 (left panel of Fig. 1). The ten warmest years all occur within the 12-year period 1997-2008. The two-standard-deviation (95% confidence) uncertainty in comparing recent years is estimated as 0.05°C [ref. 2], so we can only conclude with confidence that 2008 was somewhere within the range from 7th to 10th warmest year in the record.

A) Line plot of mean annual global temperature anomalies since 1880, and B) Global map of mean temperature anomalies for 2008 met year

Figure 1 above. Left: Annual-means of global-mean temperature anomaly Right: Global map of surface temperature anomalies, in degrees Celsius, for 2008. (Click for PDF.)

The map of global temperature anomalies in 2008 (right panel of Fig. 1), shows that most of the world was either near normal or warmer than in the base period (1951-1980). Eurasia, the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsula were exceptionally warm, while much of the Pacific Ocean was cooler than the long-term average. The relatively low temperature in the tropical Pacific was due to a strong La Niña that existed in the first half of the year. La Niña and El Niño are opposite phases of a natural oscillation of tropical temperatures, La Niña being the cool phase.

Line plots of mean annual global and low-latitude temperature anomalies since 1880

Line plots of monthly mean global ocean temperature anomaly

Figure 2, at right. Top: Seasonal-mean global and low latitude temperature anomalies relative to the 1951-1980 base period. (Click for large GIF or PDF.) Bottom: Monthly-mean global-ocean surface temperature anomaly, based on satellite temperature analyses of Reynolds and Smith (ref. 4]. (Click for large GIF or PDF.)

The top of Fig. 2 provides seasonal resolution of global and low latitude surface temperature, and an index that measures the state of the natural tropical temperature oscillation. The figure indicates that the La Niña cool cycle peaked in early 2008. The global effect of the tropical oscillation is made clear by the average temperature anomaly over the global ocean (bottom of Fig. 2). The “El Niño of the century”, in 1997-98, stands out, as well as the recent La Niña.

Figure 3 compares 2008 with the mean for the first seven years of this century. Except for the relatively cool Pacific Ocean, most of the world was either near normal or unusually warm in 2008. The temperature in the United States in 2008 was not much different than the 1951-1980 mean, which makes 2008 cooler than all of the previous years this decade. As shown by the right side of Fig. 3, most of the United States averaged between 0.5 and 1°C warmer than the long-term mean during 2001-2007.

The GISS analysis of global surface temperature, documented in the scientific literature [refs. 1 and 2], incorporates data from three data bases made available monthly: (1) the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) of the National Climate Data Center [ref. 3], (2) the satellite analysis of global sea surface temperature of Reynolds and Smith [ref. 4], and (3) Antarctic records of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) [ref. 5].

In the past our procedure has been to run the analysis program upon receipt of all three data sets and make the analysis publicly available immediately. This procedure worked very well from a scientific perspective, with the broad availability of the analysis helping reveal any problems with input data sets. However, because confusion was generated in the media after one of the October 2008 input data sets was found to contain significant flaws (some October station records inadvertently repeated September data in the October data slot), we have instituted a new procedure. The GISS analysis is first made available internally before it is released publicly. If any suspect data are detected, they will be reported back to the data providers for resolution. This process may introduce significant delays. We apologize for any inconvenience due to this delay, but it should reduce the likelihood of instances of future confusion and misinformation.

Note that we provide the rank of global temperature for individual years because there is a high demand for it from journalists and the public. The rank has scientific significance in some cases, e.g., when a new record is established. However, otherwise rank has limited value and can be misleading. As opposed to the rank, Fig. 3 provides much more information about how the 2008 temperature compares with previous years, and why it was a bit cooler (again, note the change in the Pacific Ocean region).

Global maps of temperature anomalies for 2008 and for 2001-2007.

Figure 3 above. Comparison of 2008 (left) temperature anomalies with the mean 2001-2007 (right) anomalies. Notice that a somewhat different color bar has been used than in Figure 1 to show more structure in the right-hand map). (Click for PDF.)

Finally, in response to popular demand, we comment on the likelihood of a near-term global temperature record. Specifically, the question has been asked whether the relatively cool 2008 alters the expectation we expressed in last year’s summary that a new global record was likely within the next 2-3 years (now the next 1-2 years). Response to that query requires consideration of several factors:

Natural dynamical variability:The largest contribution is the Southern Oscillation, the El Niño-La Niña cycle. The Niño 3.4 temperature anomaly (the bottom line in the top panel of Fig. 2), suggests that the La Niña may be almost over, but the anomaly fell back (cooled) to -0.7°C last month (December). It is conceivable that this tropical cycle could dip back into a strong La Niña, as happened, e.g., in 1975. However, for the tropical Pacific to stay in that mode for both 2009 and 2010 would require a longer La Niña phase than has existed in the past half century, so it is unlikely. Indeed, subsurface and surface tropical ocean temperatures suggest that the system is “recharged”, i.e., poised, for the next El Niño, so there is a good chance that one may occur in 2009. Global temperature anomalies tend to lag tropical anomalies by 3-6 months.

Solar irradiance:The solar output remains low (Fig. 4), at the lowest level in the period since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s, and the time since the prior solar minimum is already 12 years, two years longer than the prior two cycles. This has led some people to speculate that we may be entering a “Maunder Minimum” situation, a period of reduced irradiance that could last for decades. Most solar physicists expect the irradiance to begin to pick up in the next several months — there are indications, from the polarity of the few recent sunspots, that the new cycle is beginning.

Line plot of solar irradiance since 1980

Figure 4, at right. Solar irradiance through November 2008 from Frohlich and Lean [ref. 8]. (Click for large GIF or PDF.)

However, let’s assume that the solar irradiance does not recover. In that case, the negative forcing, relative to the mean solar irradiance is equivalent to seven years of CO2 increase at current growth rates. So do not look for a new “Little Ice Age” in any case. Assuming that the solar irradiance begins to recover this year, as expected, there is still some effect on the likelihood of a near-term global temperature record due to the unusually prolonged solar minimum. Because of the large thermal inertia of the ocean, the surface temperature response to the 10-12 year solar cycle lags the irradiance variation by 1-2 years. Thus, relative to the mean, i.e, the hypothetical case in which the sun had a constant average irradiance, actual solar irradiance will continue to provide a negative anomaly for the next 2-3 years.

Volcanic aerosols:Colorful sunsets the past several months suggest a non-negligible stratospheric aerosol amount at northern latitudes. Unfortunately, as noted in the 2008 Bjerknes Lecture [ref. 9], the instrument capable of precise measurements of aerosol optical depth depth (SAGE, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment) is sitting on a shelf at Langley Research Center. Stratospheric aerosol amounts are estimated from crude measurements to be moderate. The aerosols from an Aleutian volcano, which is thought to be the primary source, are at relatively low altitude and high latitudes, where they should be mostly flushed out this winter. Their effect in the next two years should be negligible.

Greenhouse gases: Annual growth rate of climate forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) slowed from a peak close to 0.05 W/m2 per year around 1980-85 to about 0.035 W/m2 in recent years due to slowdown of CH4 and CFC growth rates [ref. 6]. Resumed methane growth, if it continued in 2008 as in 2007, adds about 0.005 W/m2. From climate models and empirical analyses, this GHG forcing trend translates into a mean warming rate of ~0.15°C per decade.

Summary:The Southern Oscillation and increasing GHGs continue to be, respectively, the dominant factors affecting interannual and decadal temperature change. Solar irradiance has a non-negligible effect on global temperature [see, e.g., ref. 7, which empirically estimates a somewhat larger solar cycle effect than that estimated by others who have teased a solar effect out of data with different methods]. Given our expectation of the next El Niño beginning in 2009 or 2010, it still seems likely that a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years, despite the moderate negative effect of the reduced solar irradiance.



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1. Darryl Pendlebury - December 19, 2008

What a bunch of mindless pathetic losers to believe such rubbish. If Rudd was serious about the environment just think of what he could have done with the 10 billion he just handed out to Australias bludging class to buy plasma TV’s and playstations. Please give me a break.

2. Joel Black - March 9, 2009

Interesting way to keep up with the “facts” as predicted by “scientists”. Could you also go back in the timeline and list similar predictions, say beginning with Hansen’s first testimony, and give short bullet-point summaries of the real world results?

3. honestclimate - August 9, 2009

Click below for the Climate Change Alarmism Timeline 1895-2009:


4. co2co2co2 - September 14, 2009

what solar peak? the sun is at an extensive solar minimum right now!

5. Robert Godwin - November 19, 2009

It is discouraging and undermines the AGW argument when temperature data only goes back to 1950. There is data available for the 1920’s and 1930’s, which is the warmest period of the century.

Using more data would lead to a different result in terms of top ten warmest years.

Disheartening that apparently the data is chosen based on the outcome being sought.

6. Larry W. Smith - November 21, 2009

Why is the Scientific Method not being used by all of these wrold renound scientists and such on Global Warming?

7. Harpo - November 28, 2009


“Why is the Scientific Method not being used by all of these wrold renound scientists and such on Global Warming?”

That is the $64,000 question….

I found this in a US Senate report………. Paltridge is just one of 400 scientist quoted in the report.

Atmospheric Physicist Dr. Garth W. Paltridge, an Emeritus Professor from University of Tasmania, is another prominent skeptic. Paltridge who was a Chief Research Scientist with the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research before taking up positions in 1990 as Director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies at the University of Tasmania and as CEO of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Center. Paltridge questioned the motives of scientists hyping climate fears.

“They have been so successful with their message of greenhouse doom that, should one of them prove tomorrow that it is nonsense, the discovery would have to be suppressed for the sake of the overall reputation of science,”

Paltridge wrote in an April 6, 2007 op-ed entitled “Global Warming – Not Really a Done Deal?”

The use of the scientfic method in this case may destroy the credibility of their science. Catch 22.

8. rogerthesurf - January 18, 2010

I enjoyed all the alarmist statements, but I agreed with the one about the petrol price.
Meeting IPCC emission targets will make sure the price of energy is a lot higher than that!

Well there might be global warming or cooling but the important issue is whether we, as a human race, can do anything about it.

There are a host of porkies and not very much truth barraging us everyday so its difficult to know what to believe.

I think I have simplified the issue in an entertaining way on my blog which includes some issues connected with climategate and “embarrassing” evidence.

In the pipeline is an analysis of the economic effects of the proposed emission reductions. Watch this space or should I say Blog


Please feel welcome to visit and leave a comment.



PS The term “porky” is listed in the Australian Dictionary of Slang.( So I’m told.)

9. Stefan Mitich - July 27, 2011

Because oxygen & nitrogen expand when they warm up, into place of -90C, intercept extra coldness in 3,5seconds to equalize = extra heat in the atmosphere is not acumulative. When it gets colder, as in solar eclipse, O+N shrink = release less heat = cooling of the whole atmosphere is imposible! Part of the atmosphere always get warmer expands – intercepts extra coldnes, that coldness falls somwhere ellse because of winds and speening of the planet – but equalizes. IPCC are monitoring on 6000 places; what about on the other 60 billion places, where is not monitored? Are those places irelevant? What about on 67, 180m, 2km up in the air? Laws of physics say: when more CO2 +H2O in atmosphere, upper atmosphere warmer – on the ground days are cooler. Clear sky – days hotter, nights colder. Before you guys abolish the laws of physics; should only talk about localized warming and cooling; not GLOBAL! get corect info /fackts and formulas on http://www.stefanmitich.com P.s. why nobody thold me about this blog before?!

10. Stefan Mitich - July 27, 2011

About 80% of all the water in every sea and ocean combined is below 5C, water below 4degrees, when cools further down – it expands. Fill up a bottle of seawater at below zero – warm it up few degrees = will shrink. Fill the bottle at 4C and cool it few degrees = will explode. The sealevel goes up – when gets colder! Get corect scientific info on http://www.stefanmitich.com 2] when is warmer = more ice on the polar caps, not when colder. Water freezes on zero degrees, on polar caps is average temp -35degrees below zero. It depends on the amount of raw material for replanishing the ice, not on temperature. I.e. On Greenland is 1km thick ice; same latitude in Finland potatoes are growing; same latitude in Russian permafrost no ice. Sceptic’s warmer 1200AD was actualy colder northern hemisphere. Because Arctic’s water didn’t have enough ice cover as insulator. Was absorbing extra coldness and currents were spreading it south = less raw material for ice on Greenland. 3]Antarctic gets more ice on one side, when is El Nino, another side in La Nina. Ice on Antarctic is melted constantly by the thermal heat. Because ice as insulator is protecting that heat from the unlimited coldness on the surface. Sceptics are honest people with outdated theories. Find on my website, why the temperature changed in northern Europe from 1880’s and much more, on my website. Only solid evidences can stop the misleading. Active Sceptics are using Alarmist’ wrong data – to prove the Alarmist wrong… Laws of physics, boys! Sceptics become bigger Warmist than the Alarmist, because both camps ate acting as if they have abolished the laws of physics. those laws say: part of the planet’s atmosphere can get warmer, but another part simultaneously gets colder. Believing in warming and cooling of the whole planet makes both camps ”non believers in the laws of physics” = guilty about the ”flat rate carbon tax” shame, shame…!

11. Stefan Mitich - July 27, 2011

2009 for the first time engineers made powerfull filter, to make picture directly of the sun /to look at the sun. Talking about sunspots for the last 12 century was invented /incerted as a gues work = then they made it as factual. Teling that was or wasn’t sunspots in some previous century – doesn’t mean that has any substance – is only hint / proof that the person saying it is dishonest. When they realise that: solar and galagtic influence doesn’t make warmer or colder planet… The laws of physics /oxygen nitrogen shrinking and expanding regulation is so powerfull … Talking about solar ang galactic influence should be left to horoscope people. Interference with the earth’s magnetic field damages electronic equipment, but has nothing to do with the temperature. Please keep record what any alarmist predicts = on the base of their predictions, billions of tax $$$ has being laundered. People go to jail for $1000. Crime shouldn’t pay !!!

12. stefanthedenier - March 5, 2012

If Nigeria was supposed to sink by 2059, I would have believed, BOO!!! But 2058… NO!

Their crystal balls have lots of thin air in, to harvest from…. but tarot cards reading is much more reliable. In the name of science, they should go back to reading tea-leafs; if they want to be taken seriously,

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