2013 ends up as 4th-warmest year ever for Planet Earth

Many ocean regions record warm, even without El Niño

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A few spots reported near-record cold in Dec. 2013, but most of the planet saw temperatures well above average during the month, especially the southern hemisphere. Map courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Nearly the whole world was warmer than average in 2013, with parts of central Asia, western Ethiopia, eastern Tanzania, and much of southern and western Australia reporting record warmth. No regions of the world were record-cold in 2013.

With record warmth in parts of the Arctic Ocean and a large swath of the southwestern Pacific Ocean, 2013 ended up tied with 2005 as the fourth-warmest year on record for Planet Earth, according to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center 2013 global climate report.

At the same time, the NSDC released the December 2013 global State of the Climate report, showing that the month ranked as the third-warmest on record, at 1.15 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. Continue reading

Global warming may double El Niño frequency

Study findings suggest more Australian heatwaves

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New study analyzes how global warming will affect El Niño events.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Strong El Niños — along with the extreme weather events that are driven by those warm Pacific ocean episodes — are likely to double as the globe heats up.

“During an extreme El Niño event countries in the western Pacific, such as Australia and Indonesia, experience devastating droughts and wild fires, while catastrophic floods occurred in the eastern equatorial region of Ecuador and northern Peru,” said  CSIRO Dr. Wenju Cai, lead author of a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“We currently experience an unusually strong El Niño event every 20 years. Our research shows this will double to one event every 10 years,” said Dr. Agus Santoso, a climate researcher with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. The international research team also included scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Continue reading

Global temps record high in November 2013

Cool U.S. readings the exception in a record-warm month

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Planet Earth record-warm in November 2013. Graphic courtesy NASA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — November’s cool temperatures across parts of North America were the exception, as the rest of globe reported all-time record warmth for the month. According to the National Climatic Data Center’s monthly update, the average global temperature was 1.40 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.

Many regions saw all-time record highs, including southern Russia, northwest Kazakhstan, south India, southern Madagascar, parts of the central and south Indian Ocean, and sections of the Pacific Ocean.

Northern Australia, parts of North America, south west Greenland, and parts of the Southern Ocean near South America were cooler than average, but no regions of the globe were record cold during November. Read the full report here. Continue reading

Climate: Is the Southwest ‘stuck’ in a drought pattern?

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NOAA’s winter outlook offers little relief for Arizona, New Mexico

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Drought conditions may persist across the southwestern U.S. this winter and may redevelop across the Southeast, according to the seasonal outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“Even though we don’t have La Niña, the atmosphere across the Pacific seems to be stuck in a La Niña mode … It’s been quite surprising to us, how persistent the pattern is,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of the Climate Prediction Center.

Parts of the Southwest, especially New Mexico, have been experiencing one of the driest periods on record, and Halpert said there is “decent agreement” in the CPC’s models on the climate signal that has resulted in the persistent trend. Continue reading

Global warming changing global precipitation patterns

Simultaneous changes in global precipitation patterns can’t be explained by natural variability

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By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Scientists with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say unequivocally that greenhouse gases are affecting the distribution and intensity of precipitation around the world.

The new study, published Nov. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how emissions of heat-trapping and ozone-depleting gases affect the distribution of precipitation through two mechanisms. Increasing temperatures are expected to make wet regions wetter and dry regions drier (thermodynamic changes); and changes in atmospheric circulation patterns will push storm tracks and subtropical dry zones toward the poles.

“Both these changes are occurring simultaneously in global precipitation and this behavior cannot be explained by natural variability alone,” said LLNL’s lead author Kate Marvel. “External influences such as the increase in greenhouse gases are responsible for the changes.” Continue reading

Climate study shows that deforestation of the Amazon could dry out the western United States

Shifts in precipitation patterns would have big consequences for agriculture, forests and municipal water supplies

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Research suggests that deforestation will likely produce a weather cycle over the Amazon consisting of abnormally dry air in the sun-scorched northern Amazon around the equator weighted by wetter air in the cooler south (left). The Princeton-led researchers found that the Amazon pattern would be subject to meandering high-altitude winds known as Rossby waves that move east or west across the planet (center). The Rossby waves would move the dry end of the Amazon pattern directly over the western United States from December to February, while the pattern’s rainy portion would be over the Pacific Ocean south of Mexico (right). Image courtesy Princeton University.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Continued deforestation in the Amazon region could have significant impacts on the weather in North America, according to Princeton researchers, who used fine-grained climate models to simulate how precipitation patterns could shift in the future.

Their findings suggest that  total deforestation of the Amazon may significantly reduce rain and snowfall in the western United States — specifically, 20 percent less rain for the coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for cities and farms in California.

“The big point is that Amazon deforestation will not only affect the Amazon — it will not be contained. It will hit the atmosphere and the atmosphere will carry those responses,” said lead author David Medvigy, an assistant professor of geosciences at Princeton. Continue reading

Climate study shows heat building up in the ocean

‘We may have underestimated the efficiency of the oceans as a storehouse for heat and energy … ‘

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The heat trapped by greenhouse gases isn’t missing — it’s in the ocean. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — There’s more evidence that the world’s ocean are taking up the heat trapped by greenhouse gases at an increasing rate, according to a new study published in Science this week.

After reconstructing Pacific Ocean temperatures from the last 10,000 years, the researchers found that the middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000 years.

“We’re experimenting by putting all this heat in the ocean without quite knowing how it’s going to come back out and affect climate,” said study coauthor Braddock Linsley, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “It’s not so much the magnitude of the change, but the rate of change.” Continue reading

Climate: El Niño unusually active in 20th century

New study may help show how El Niño will respond to global warming

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Tracking El Niño …

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Powerful El Niño events during recent decades are outside the norm of the last 600 years, climate researchers said this week, after finding that the cycles of warmer-than-average sea surface temps in the equatorial Pacific appear linked to global temperatures.

“Our new estimates of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity of the past 600 years appear to roughly track global mean temperature,” said Shayne McGregor, of the University of New South Wales. “But we still don’t know why.”

The team of climate scientists, including researcher with the University of Hawaii International Pacific Research Center and the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, said their findings (published in Climate of the Past) help resolve some of the uncertainties surrounding historic ENSO cycles, which can trigger flooding and droughts across different parts of the world. Continue reading

Climate: 6th-warmest September on record for Planet Earth

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Warmer than average temperatures prevailed across much of the globe in September 2013. Graphic courtesy NCDC.

Southern hemisphere land-surface temps record warm for the month

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For all the tweeting, squawking and general clamor from global warming deniers, you’d think the Earth was on the brink of a new ice age, but the facts show otherwise.

Once again during September, the average global temperature was near record highs, at 1.15 degrees above the 20th century average — tied with 2003 as the fourth-warmest on record.

Even without the warming effect of El Niño, the average global ocean temperature was .97 degrees above the 20th century average, tying with 2006 as the fourth-warmest on record. For the year, land and sea surface temperatures together are on pace to register as the sixth warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center, which released its monthly climate update a few days late due to the shutdown. Continue reading

How will global warming affect El Niño?

Study shows how external influences shape Pacific weather patterns

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New research may help show how global warming will affect El Niño.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By studying coral samples from a remote Pacific atoll, Australian researchers say they’ve found evidence that external influences can change the intensity of the periodic El Niño cycle. By extension, they said, human-caused global warming could also alter the pattern, though the observational record is too short to determine whether that’s already happening.

The research was led by scientist with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and  published in Nature Geoscience.

“Our research has showed that, while the development of La Niña and El Niño events is chaotic and hard to predict, the strength of these events can change over long time spans due to changes in the global climate,” said one of the paper’s authors, Australian climate researcher Dr. Steven Phipps. Continue reading

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