2013 4th Hottest Year on Record, Deep Ocean Warming Fastest, NASA, NOAA Find No Pause in Long-Term Warming Trend

2013 4th Hottest On Record

(Global temperature anomalies for 2013. Image source: NOAA)

With the readings coming in for 2013 — atmosphere, ocean surface and the deep ocean — it becomes increasingly obvious that anyone saying planetary warming has slowed down is clearly misinformed.

Criticisms of the misinformed aside, according to reports from NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, 2013 was the world’s 4th hottest on record since temperature measures began in 1880. All this despite ENSO conditions remaining neutral in the Eastern Pacific and deep ocean heat content continuing to rapidly rise while sucking a portion of that heat out of the atmosphere.

The NCDC measure found numerous regions in which temperatures were the hottest ever recorded including a large swath of Australia, a broad stretch of the Pacific Ocean adjacent to New Guinea and the Philippines, an area larger than Texas at the heart of the Asian Continent, and multiple other locations ranging from south of Svalbard to East Africa to the Indian Ocean to the Northern and Southern Pacific. Aside from these record hot zones, over 70 percent of the land and ocean surface measured came up either hotter than average or much hotter than average while 28% of the globe experienced average temperatures and less than 2% of the Earth’s surface experienced cooler than average temperatures.

Notably, no regions of the globe saw record coldest temperatures and the only zone coming up cooler than normal cropped up in the Southern Ocean just north of Antarctica.

NASA found 2013 to be the 7th hottest on record and the 2nd hottest non El Nino year on record.

Helpfully, NASA also put together a graph of global temperature averages as measured since 1950 showing that atmospheric warming has continued unabated despite much false and inaccurate press coverage of a ‘global warming hiatus.’


(GISS temperature measurements with trend lines for El Nino, La Nina and all years. It’s worth noting that this temperature graph indicates no pause in warming since 1950. Instead, what we see are inexorable global surface temperature increases. Image source: NASA GISS)

Deep Ocean Warming Measures Far More Dire

Recent news reports have also falsely claimed that more heat going into the deep ocean, as measured by NASA, NOAA, the Trenberth study, and others, is an indication of lowered global climate sensitivity. To the contrary, a warming ocean contains two very dire consequences that, if set into play, could both enhance warming, and create an ecological nightmare for first the oceans and finally the surface world.

The first, a growing risk of subsea methane release, is greatly enhanced by a rapidly warming ocean. We have covered the risks and consequences of methane release (both seabed and terrestrial methane) in numerous posts over the past year. For your convenience I’ve linked them below. But, suffice it to say that a warming ocean puts at risk the more rapid release of hundreds of gigatons of methane, an amount that could greatly amplify the already powerful and ongoing signal of human warming. More worrisome, initial indications show that at least some of this methane is already destabilized and venting into the world ocean system and atmosphere.

The second consequence involves growing ocean hypoxia and anoxia as the oceans warm, become more stratified and as major ocean current systems are disrupted and altered. Growing ocean hypoxia and anoxia results in, among other terrible impacts, ocean sea bottoms that are less and less able to support a diversity of life and that, more and more, come to support dangerous hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria.

A third consequence includes the basal melting of ocean contacting ice sheets. Such melting has already destabilized the massive Pine Island Glacier which, according to a recent scientific study, is on the path to an inevitable collapse into the Southern Ocean.

Yet, according to these excellent graphs produced by Larry Hamilton for The Arctic Ice Blog, world ocean heat content has been rising by leaps and bounds over the past few years, especially in the deep ocean where warming puts at risk the most dangerous of outcomes — methane release and anoxia.



(Image source: L Hamilton. Image data: NOAA. Produced for The Arctic Ice Blog. Note the extraordinarily steep slope indicating deep ocean warming since 1985.)

The top graph shows ocean heat content increases in the first 700 meters of ocean water. The bottom graph shows ocean heat content in the first 2000 meters of ocean water. Note that ocean heat content gains for the deep ocean (2000 meter graph) are more rapid by 25% than heat content gains in the shallower ocean. Meanwhile, both graphs show a very rapid accumulation of heat, especially through recent years during which the so-called global warming hiatus was in effect.

If we could find a place to put the majority of heat from human-caused climate change, the deep ocean would be the last place any sane ecologist would look. Warming the deep ocean is a worst-case disaster in the making. It puts added stress on methane hydrate stores and it pushes the very dangerous consequences of ocean stratification and anoxia along at a much more rapid pace.

These are not optimistic measures. In my view, this is much closer to an absolute worst case.

Mixed Outlook for 2014

Early indications for 2014 show an increased chance of La Nina for the first three months of the year. That said, ocean surface heat in the Eastern equatorial Pacific appears to be on the rise, especially in areas closest to coastal South America.


(Image source: NOAA)

Should ENSO tip the scale to El Nino, it is almost certain we will see a hottest year on record for surface temperatures during 2014. Should conditions remain neutral or tip to La Nina, we’ll still likely experience a top ten hottest year on record (atmosphere) even as ever more heat is transferred to the deep ocean.


NASA Finds 2013 Sustained Long-Term Warming Trend

National Climate Data Center Global Analysis

Larry Hamilton CA The Arctic Ice Blog

The Arctic Methane Monster Continues its Ominous Rumbling

Arctic Methane Monster Shortens Tail

The Arctic Methane Monster Stirs

Through the Looking Glass of the Great Dying

Awakening the Horrors of the Ancient Hothouse — Hydrogen Sulfide in the World’s Warming Oceans

Warming Ocean, Upwelling to Make an End to Pine Island Glacier

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

May 2013, 3rd Hottest On Record, Hosts ‘Extreme Jet Stream,’ Major Weather Disasters

NCDC May 2013 3rd hottest

(Image source: NCDC/NOAA)

According to reports from the National Climate Data Center, May 2013 was the third hottest May in the climate record. May 2013’s average temperature was .66 degrees Celsius above the 20th Century average, tying values for May of 2005 and 1998.

Though the Eastern Pacific edged closer to La Nina conditions, this cooling of waters off South America did little to abate near record warmth. Overall ocean temperatures were 5th hottest on record with very high temperatures remaining over much of the Tropical Atlantic and likely providing fuel for the two storms that have already developed in June: Andrea and Barry. Normally, June only hosts one storm every two years. However, in recent years, the number of tropical systems during June has markedly increased, leading some meteorologists to speculate that the Hurricane Season is getting longer.

According to observations from Dr. Jeff Masters at WeatherUnderground, Northern Hemisphere snow cover was also 3rd lowest on record whiles sea ice volume remained in record low territory at 3rd lowest as well. Combined lower sea ice and snow cover, according to Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, results in a lessening of the difference in temperatures between the equator and the tropics which can push the Jet Stream into extreme configurations. As I’ve reported over the past month, a number of blocking patterns in the Jet Stream have resulted in periods of severe weather over a number of regions.

According to Dr. Masters:

An extreme jet stream configuration was responsible for the record $22 billion floods in Central Europe in late May and early June, and it is possible that the unusually low May Northern Hemisphere snow cover contributed to the unusual jet stream behavior.

Overall, WeatherUnderground notes 5 major weather disasters during May which exceeded 1 billion dollars in damage, and one, the European Floods, which totaled 22 billion in overall losses. They included:

1) Floods in Central Europe, May – June, $22 billion
2) Drought, Brazil, 1/1 – 5/31, $8.3 billion
3) Tornado in Moore, OK and associated U.S. severe weather, 5/18 – 5/22, $5 billion
4) Tornadoes and severe weather, U.S., 5/26 – 6/2, $2 billion
5) Drought, New Zealand, 1/1 – 5/10, $1.6 billion

Masters does not, however, include the ongoing US drought of 2012-2013 which has already resulted in tens of billions of dollars in damages.

Overall, the 22 billion dollar European flood of 2013 ranked as the 5th most damaging weather disaster outside the US since 1980.

According to NCDC, the period of January to May of 2013 was the 8th hottest on record. With La Nina remaining on the cool side of neutral, natural variability will tend to push 2013 to remain a non-record year. The wild-card, however, is quite a lot of heat that seems to be building up at the Earth’s polar regions. But we’ll have to wait until end of summer to see if this develops into a serious challenge to the El Nino, La Nina base-line.



ASCAT Satellite Images Show 2013 Arctic Sea Ice Break-up, Speed of Motion Unprecedented





The above series of images is a composite of ASCAT radar sequences for 2010 to 2013. They were produced by anonymous Arctic Ice Blog comment poster A-Team. A-Team has recently gotten the attention of Climate Central and Discover News, among others, for his/her vivid images tracking an unprecedented sea ice break up starting in February of 2013.

This, most recent, series of images composed by A-Team compares this season’s Arctic sea ice with that of 2010 through 2012. These radar images both show cracks and the motion of sea ice. As can plainly be seen, sea ice motion and cracking is far greater for 2013.

Unprecedented cracking and rapid motion of late winter sea ice is yet one more sign of sea ice fragility. Though it is no guarantee that sea ice melt at end of summer 2013 will produce a new record low, as happened in 2012, it does appear to be yet one more factor emerging from an ongoing period of catastrophic melt that began in the 1950s and has accelerated since 1979. It is worth noting that, if the current rate of sea ice volume losses holds, there is risk of a complete Arctic melt as soon as 2013-2017.

Another series of images, these identified by Chris Reynolds from the archive at the Canadian Weather Office, vividly shows the progression of breakage in the Beaufort Sea which has continued to intensify over the past few days. You can view this image sequence here:


And last of all, a very large crack has appeared directly through the thickest ice. This one ending very close to the North Pole:


Learn more on Neven’s Arctic Ice Blog.

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