Temperature Trends

Hottest December in Satellite Record: Global Temperature Trend Update

Overall 2015 was third warmest year in satellite record


Dreamstime: Meryll

Every month University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer publish the latest global temperature trend data obtained from NOAA satellites. For the month of December 2015 they report:

For the globe and the southern hemisphere, December 2015 was the warmest December in the satellite temperature dataset. It was the second warmest December in the northern hemisphere, and the third warmest in the tropics. …

The El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event continued to push temperatures to record highs in December, putting a record end to the third warmest year in the satellite temperature dataset, said Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. 2015 finished with an average temperature that was 0.27 C (about 0.49 degrees F) warmer than the 30-year norm. The warmest year on record is 1998, when the annual average temperature was 0.48 C (about 0.86 degrees F) warmer than normal. The five warmest years in the satellite temperature record are:

1998    +0.48 C
2010    +0.34 C
2015    +0.27 C
2002    +0.21 C
2005    +0.20 C


Ocean temperatures related to the El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event are falling, which in the short term should mean temperatures in the atmosphere will continue to rise: The eastern central Pacific cools as it releases heat into the atmosphere. There is a lag between the two, so the atmosphere should continue to see El Niño-influenced high (even record high) temperatures for the next several months. This is a pattern seen in most of the El Niño events during the past  several decades.

Go here to see satellite temperature data by month since 1978.

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  1. Warm Decembers are typical in El Nino years. Yawn.

    1. But this one’s HUGE.

      1. Yuge.

    2. I keep reminding people about several years in the 90s that were pretty much like this. Not new.

      1. On New year’s eve 1996 I played golf with a friend outside Belpre ,Ohio.It was 70 degrees.It had snowed on Christmas eve.

  2. So,I rather enjoyed it after last year.And so far Jan. has been much better too.I shoveled lots of snow in below freezing and below zero temps.Used over 90 pounds of salt on our long gravel drive.I’m hoping to mow grass in early March.BTW,these same samples of time mean nothing.

    1. Except for the heating bills last year was awesome.

  3. I still would like to know why it is that the global temperature in each calendar month varies such that the term “hottest December” has any meaning. Yes, it is colder in the Norther Hemisphere in December than it is in July, but it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere. It is always summer somewhere on earth. So how is it that the global temperature in December should be different than what it is in July or May?

    1. Assuming the measurements are identical every year, it shouldn’t matter. And once they’re corrected to fit the models we’ll be getting somewhere.

      1. The measurement taking, that is.

    2. Because of Western white patriarchy and the belief that white people in the North are better than those living in the southern hemisphere and everything revolves around us. As it should.

      1. Look how nicely the Northern Hemisphere has drained since Noah’s Flood, while most of the Southern Hemisphere remains under water.

    3. John,

      The measurements aren’t temperatures per se, but anomalies.

      Let’s say that every day at noon, you record the temperature on Lexington Green, and then at the end of each month, you average all those observations. Furthermore, let’s say that after 10 years, you take each month’s average, and average it with all the corresponding months over that decade (ie average all the Januaries and get a number, average all the Februaries and get another number etc:

      So yo end up with something like

      Jan 10.0
      Feb 11.4
      Mar 28.3
      April 54.6


      Now let’s say the January average for 2015 was 11.4

      By subtracting the decadal average from that month’s average, you get +1.4

      If Feb 2015’s average was 28.1, the difference would be -0.2

      Those latter numbers are anomalies. That’s what Spencer is reporting.

      1. I get what they are but I don’t see why the difference means anything. Okay, this December was warmer than other Decembers. That is fine except that it only is significant if there is any reason to believe that all Decembers should have the same or similar temperatures. I have never heard anyone explain why the global temperature in one December should be the same or similar than another. Without that, who cares how one December compares to another one?

        1. It’s a good exercise for extracting trends from noisy data.

          Let’s say the Earth was cooling to a some horrible stable temperature, like -100 F because aliens were sucking heat out of our oceans using hyperspace gates made out of unobtanium.

          That would be signaled by consistently negative anomalies and a cooling trend.

          Similarly if these aliens began dumping heat into the earth (no doubt by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow), we’d see generally positive anomalies.

          And if things are stable, there would some sort of distribution of positive and negative anomalies around 0.

          Of course, how you aggregate multiple detectors introduces a whole host of problems. The nice thing about the satellite record is that it sidesteps this by having one small set of detectors systematically sampling much of the Earth.

          1. Oops, tarran, you beat me to it. I guess I was sitting on this for twenty minutes and didn’t see your reply.

          2. Statistically, anthropogenic (ie atmospheric CO2) warming REQUIRES a relatively even distribution of those anomalies because CO2 disperses quickly into the entire atmosphere. If the anomalies are occurring mostly on land then there are likely other causes more important than CO2 (heat islands, desertification/albedo, measurement station discontinuities). If the anomalies are occurring over the oceans, then the measurement record is simply too short to make any long-term conclusions without focusing a lot more on oceanographic understanding instead of climatology understanding (admittedly the author here does mention that – which is refreshing). If the anomalies are occurring at the poles, then that is precisely where one should expect solar variations and magnetic field changes to have the biggest impacts.

            Unfortunately, most ‘climatologists’ have proven themselves thoroughly dishonest and untrustworthy when it comes to either presenting the raw data or allowing discussion of how the raw data can be interpreted. Compounded by media/pols who are pure agenda-driven hacks – and deceitful and venal to boot. So the public ‘presentation’ will fail to even mention El Nino or distinguish anything here.

        2. Due to the inertia and fairly constant drivers in huge systems like the Earth’s climate, you would generally expect temperatures to be similar December-over-December. And that is what is observed. The temperatures are similar but there is noise in the signal which causes small variations.

          Global warming alarmists are squinting their eyes and looking for a secular trend over hundreds of years. This trend is on top of the normal year-over-year noise. There have been many of these cooling and warming trends over the eons.

        3. There’s a simple explanation for your perplexity, John.
          It’s called Brain Death.

          1. It’s called Brain Death.

            You know, Dr Sietz? I really enjoy watching you make an utter fool of yourself. I shouldn’t; it’s like taking pleasure from watching a kid with Down’s syndrome doing something embarrassingly stupid with no comprehension that it is stupid or embarassing. Only a sadist would experience joy over something so hearbreakingly awful.

            I guess, it’s OK though. You aren’t the way you are because you can’t help it. You just choose to be a childish asshole. And when confronted by people better and wiser than you, all you can do is fling poo.

            But, here’s the thing. Every time you comment here, Dr Russel Sietz of Harvard University, the google page rank of your episodes of imbecilic and petulant verbal poo slinging rises. And there will come a day when those episodes will define your reputation, and your tenured post will be but a footnote.

            Enjoy your degeneration! 😉

  4. We are also in the midst of one of the largest El Ninos on record. So it being warmer is not unexpected.

  5. I like that “third highest” is nearly half of the highest temp, only a quarter higher than the fifth highest, and less than the average of the five. I mean, I’m not a statistician and am pretty innumerate but it seems really anticlimatic for “third highest on record.”

  6. Fucking humans are so micro-brained that they’ve designed entire goddamned ideological institutions just to compensate for our peevish and dust-like meaninglessness.

  7. I wish they’d give us some warning before lighting the Tony signal.

    1. It’s like a dung fire,lots of smoke and shit.

      1. I thought it was a diesel-soaked turd on a nightstick.

        Oh wait, that’s the Dunphy signal.

        Wonder what he’s been up to. Bench pressing? Dating Morgan Fairchild? Violating people’s medical privacy?

        1. Hopefully, rotting away from meningitis.

          1. You’ve gotten even more toxic since your move to Texas! Dang!

        2. Penis enlargement needed due to over use of steroids.

  8. Whether or not we are solely responsible for global warming, the fucking liberals and environmentalists that oppose nuclear energy are the biggest dipshits on the planet. Greenpeace’s decades-long fear-mongering campaign against nuclear is more responsible for our CO2 emissions than the coal companies. There is no reason why we can’t build safe nuclear reactors for half the price they would cost without the bullshit companies have to go through to build one. If the Bikini Atoll, where 23 fusion bombs were dropped, and Chernobyl have taught us anything, it’s that nature doesn’t give a fuck about nuclear accidents and radiation. Within a few decades the plants and animals will be back and better than ever due to the lack of people who are scared of the .3% higher chance of getting cancer.

    That being said, we are wayyyy overdue for a volcanic winter. I’m thinking Katla in Iceland will likely erupt in the next decade and drop temperatures a few degrees for a decade or so, but there are numerous overdue volcanoes. But I forgot that the volcanoes erupting are because of global warming, too.

    1. True but gas and oil are used for so many purposes and can’t be replaced with nuclear ,solar or wind,ever.Try making drugs,fertilizer or the thousands of products with out them.try feeding the world with out them.They just can’t see the truth in their iphone.

      1. Oh I am fully aware we can never get rid of oil and gas for the very reasons you mention. For pure electricity generation, however, nuclear is pretty much the most efficient, reliable, and clean source of energy.

        1. +1 atom works

    2. The planet actually has its own nuclear reactors. I find that awesome and fascinating. However, Gaia didn’t ask for permission for them and isn’t following EPA and DOE regs. so i suspect that is why they were shut down.

      1. and to continue off topic I find the georeactor hypothesis of exploded planet extremely interesting. A little unsettling to think it could happen. This is my preferred explanation of the asteroid belt, long period comets, and why Mars is dead…it was a moon of an early extra planet where the belt currently is…but then again I am weird.

  9. So the third highest in 37 years? What’s the margin of error? What was the margin of error the first year data was collected? What substantive data collection improvements have diminished the margin of error?

    And lastly, 37 years is a blip compared to the amount of time man has occupied this planet. Pardon me if I don’t give a flying fuck.

  10. Damn you El Ni?o! I need a cold January for my Python hunt 2016!

    1. Pussy,in WV they hunt rattle snakes,and not those midget one’s .Playing golf one time at a Gary Player course in Sarasota one time.The old guys I was in a foursome with were in the high grass looking for lost balls right next to the snake signs. Had a alligator next to a ball on one hole.Lots of beer,hell of a day.

  11. Not to worry, Joe Romm has assured me that you can’t believe a word Christy and Spencer say, they’re just silly unscientific climate deniers pushing an agenda for Big…something.

    And Joe Romm is one of the foremost climate scientists on the planet, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s the one who, in 1996, warned us of the expert consensus and fundamental facts of the oil business pointing to the inescapable conclusion that within ten years, the US would be facing its worst economic crisis ever due to the unsustainable trade deficit caused by the need to import 2/3 of its oil and that demand in turn causing oil to spike to the economy-crippling level of $24 per barrel. Expert consensus, fundamental facts, inescapable conclusion. Suck it, bitches.

    1. Who the hell is joe rohm? Libs like to play the only climate scientists can know cause they are experts…but if climate scientists dont allie with the dogma, the libs then all the sudden abandon the thought.

  12. And, as per Spencer,

    “Since 2016 should be warmer than 2015 with the current El Nino, there is a good chance 2016 will end up as a record warm year…”


    Just satellites catching up with what surface temperatures have been saying for months. Lag time.

    1. Joe thinks El Nino actually has something to do with AGW.

    2. Hey, Jack!
      Please tell us about the fracking earthquakes no one can feel! How about the monster storms that don’t hurt anyone? I like that one.

    3. “Those satellites’ll show ’em!!”

  13. Of course, all of what you have said a thousand times!

    But in addition, let’s assume that there is indeed a SIGNIFICANT warming trend. Let’s also assume that the primary cause is anthropogenic. So we can then assume that it will generally continue for the near future. No one has yet demonstrated any proof that this is detrimental (or at least detrimental enough to warrant spending trillions of dollars and upsetting the lives of millions of people). For every negative outcome that is postulated due to temperature rise, we can imagine a balancing positive outcome. More CO2 also equals more plant matter. Warmer generally means longer growing seasons. So far, there have been no major sea level rises (at least in any way that negatively impacts people). And remember, that it is the Antarctic ice that has to melt to cause this to happen, since there isn’t any large land masses beneath Arctic ice. Cloud formation is still very controversial (is there a positive or negative feedback loop).

    1. Also, people need to remember that a 2 deg. C rise equals something on the order of a 0.67% increase. (Many of the so-called “smart” lefties forget that to compare appropriately, we need to use absolute temperature.)

      1. Yes. But they, including Ron Bailey sadly, always use a very small scale temperature range for the graphs. So what is really a very small increase looks much more significant than it is.

        1. I hear they measure their penis in millimeters too.

      2. What was the baseline for my knowledge?

    2. Re: BearOdison,

      Let’s also assume that the primary cause is anthropogenic.

      The typical Marxian shibboleth is that anything man-made and especially made through capitalistic processes is bad, whereas complete and total economic autarky (as prescribed by Marx) is good.

      Which means: it doesn’t really matter if an increase of global temperatures happens to be a GOOD THING, the Marxians will use the increase as an excuse to berate capitalism.

      1. OM: You are absolutely right. It is like those idiots who think the world would be better if mankind just disappeared. Like fucking rabbits or lions care about anything other than: where their next meal is coming from, that they don’t want to be someone else’s next meal (at least for the rabbit), and is it time to mate yet?

  14. Everyone knows socialists dont use energy…

  15. Now… Overlay the distance to the sun, solar activity, polar angle to the sun, and calibration accuracies of the thermometers.

    Those would all have an affect on the temperatures.

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