NASA’s Goddard Institute Says Global Warming Has Become Reality
WASHINGTON — NASA scientists are reporting new global warming data indicating that 2012 was the ninth hottest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.
Since the year 2000, the nine warmest years on record have all occurred, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years in the 132-years since records have been kept.
The Goddard Institute for Space Studies monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis compared temperatures around the World in 2012 to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century, analyzing data that shows that the Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago.
The average temperature in 2012 was about 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1.0 F hotter than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has risen about 1.4 F since 1880.
Weather patterns normally cause fluctuations in average temperature on a year to year basis, but the continued increase in greenhouse gas levels in the Earth’s atmosphere most assuredly will manifest itself in a long-term rise in global temperatures.
Each successive year will not necessarily be warmer than the year before, but on the current course of greenhouse gas increases, scientists expect each successive decade to be warmer than the previous decade.
“One more year of numbers isn’t in itself significant,” Goddard climatologist Gavin Schmidt said. “What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade, and that decade was warmer than the decade before. The planet is warming. The reason it’s warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat and is a major risk factor for the increase in the Earth’s climate. It occurs naturally and also is emitted by the burning of the different fossil fuels for the energy needs of the world. Driven by increasing man-made emissions, the level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has been rising consistently for decades.
The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, the first year in the Goddard temperature record. By 1960, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory, was about 315 parts per million. Today, that measurement exceeds 390 parts per million.
While the rest of the Planet was experiencing relatively warm temperatures in 2012, the U.S. recorded its warmest year on record.
“The U.S. temperatures in the summer of 2012 are an example of a new trend of outlying seasonal extremes that are warmer than the hottest seasonal temperatures of the mid-20th century,” said Goddard Director James E. Hansen. “The climate dice are now loaded. Some seasons still will be cooler than the long-term average, but the perceptive person should notice that the frequency of unusually warm extremes is increasing. It is the extremes that have the most impact on people and other life on the planet.”
The temperature analysis produced at Goddard is compiled from weather data from more than 1,000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea-surface temperature, and Antarctic research station measurements. A publicly available computer program is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period functions as a baseline for the analysis. The last year that experienced cooler temperatures than the 1951 to 1980 average was 1976.
Global warming deniers in the U.S., as well as high ranking Republicans in the House and Senate, have been trying to repudiate scientific global warming data for years now, but I don’t think they will try to challenge NASA’s data.