Temperature Trends

Global Temperature Trend Update: Third Warmest May in Satellite Record Might Portend Record-Setting El Niño

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Global temperatures
Dreamstime: Meryll

Every month University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer report the latest global temperature trends from satellite data. Below are the newest data updated through May 2014:

Global Temperature Report: May 2014

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.14 C per decade

May temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May.

Tropics: +0.17 C (about 0.31 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May.

Global Temperature Trend

The University of Alabama in Huntsville release comments: 

May 2014 was the third warmest May in the 35-year satellite-measured global temperature record, and the warmest May that wasn't during an El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The global average temperature for May was 0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms for the month. The warmest May was in 1998, during the "El Niño of the century." Temperatures in May 1998 were 0.56 C (about 1.0 degrees F) warmer than normal. May 2010 — also an El Niño month — was second warmest at 0.45 C (0.81 degrees F).

While May 2014 was not officially an El Niño month, indications are that an El Niño is forming in the eastern central Pacific off the equatorial coast of South America. Even if that El Niño is nothing spectacular, it might become a record setter simply because it is getting a warmer start, Christy said. "The long-term baseline temperature is about three tens of a degree (C) warmer than it was when the big El Niño of 1997-1998 began, and that event set the one-month record with an average global temperature that was 0.66 C (almost 1.2 degrees F) warmer than normal in April 1998."

January through August of 1998 are all in the 14 warmest months in the satellite record, and that El Niño started when global temperatures were somewhat chilled; the global average temperature in May 1997 was 0.14 C (about 0.25 degrees F) cooler than the long-term seasonal norm for May.

"With the baseline so much warmer, this upcoming El Niño won't have very far to go to break that 0.66 C record," Christy said. "That isn't to say it will, but even an average-sized warming event will have a chance to get close to that level."

Go here to see maps showing global temperature anomalies.

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  1. Apparently modelling and prediction has been reduced to “I know an El Ni?o when I see one.”

    A fifteen minute advanced warning from enhanced tornado modelling has *already* saved more lives than climate prediction ever will.

  2. My big question is: Did the sensors get recalibrated in 2001-2002? Because it really looks like two different flat datasets, with ’98 being an outlier.

    1. The second El Nino on the chart in 2010 isn’t labeled as such. Don’t know why.

      I’ve wondered the same thing, Brett. Unless there is some mechanism (which, naturally, the “science is settled” Lords of Climatology don’t even look for) under which an El Nino has some knock-on lingering effect on climate.

      1. RCD: The LoCs speculate that the 1998 El Nino somehow knocked the Pacific Decadal Oscillation into a cool phase, thus retarding the man-made warming that extra GHGs would otherwise have caused.

        1. the 1998 El Nino somehow knocked the Pacific Decadal Oscillation into a cool phase

          Is that legit?

        2. What’s weird, though, is that the LoCs say that the 1998 El Nino started a cool phase, but the chart says just the opposite.

          That El Nino sits right at the step function from the pre-1998 flatline to the slightly warmer post-1998 flatline.

          The data would seem to point to the El Nino kicking off a warmer phase, not a cooler phase.

          1. Dean, you’ve got to start with assumption that humanity is causing temperatures to rise. That’s how you reach the conclusion that the El Nino caused a cool phase, which just happened to balance out the (obvious) manmade heating.

      2. The graph I link below is from the World Meteorological Organization, and shows temp anomalies by year, with El Nino years highlighted, including 2010.

        You can see that El Nino years are often the highest in temperature and can look like outliers…until the next El Nino. In fact, it shows that often they are followed by cooler years (often La Ninas), but each subsequent cooling year after an El Nino is higher than the previous cooling year.

        http://www.motherjones.com/files/Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 3.39.53 PM.png

        1. Sorry, that did not work. Here is the article with graph.

          http://www.motherjones.com/env…..rd-el-nino

  3. So…essentially flat since 1998. Got it.

  4. Great Lakes ice took longer than usual to melt this year, FWIW.

  5. “Third warmest May in 35 years” tells us what, exactly? If you have three or more Mays with different temperatures one of them is mathematically guaranteed to be the third warmest. It’s like pointing out that one day out of seven is a Tuesday.

    Who writes these headlines?

  6. So the average annual temperature is normally within a range of +/- 0.6 degrees. Last year it was at + 0.2 above average. Where’s the evidence for global warming?

    1. Who needs evidence when you have consensus?

  7. Well, we will know one way or the other over the next couple of months.

    The operative sentence was “May 2014 was the third warmest May in the 35-year satellite-measured global temperature record, and the WARMEST May that wasn’t during an El Ni?o Pacific Ocean warming event.”

    And as I stated yesterday, in 2014, the January-April period is already the sixth warmest period on record, tying with 2005, with land surface temperatures 1.89?F above the 20th century average. And May will probably make the January through May period even higher on the scale. So even without El Nino we were headed to a fairly warm year.

    I see today that in San Diego they had for the first time yellow fin tuna caught in May, and already Mahi Mahi, which usually don’t show up until September. Sounds fairly certain we are heading toward an El Nino event.

    1. SO what you’re saying is…

      Still no statistically significant increase in average global temperatures since 1998.

      Got it.

      Where’s your hockey stick?

      1. Actually, I’m not sure what words above lead you to say that I said that, but its correct anyway. So?

      2. By the way, I actually have about 15 hockey sticks in my garage. You play?

  8. Didn’t hear a super lot about global warming when the polar vortex was freezing everyone’s asses off with record lows. But it’s back now, because late spring is warm oh noooes

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