More Heat for the Human Hothouse: NASA Shows First Three Months of 2015 Were Warmest on Record

With El Nino firing off in the Pacific and polar amplification pushing to ever-greater extremes in the Arctic, 2015 is following hot on the heels of 2014’s record warmth. A situation that is increasing the likelihood that the 2014-2015 period will feature back-to-back record breaking years.

According to reports from NASA GISS, March of 2015 topped off at third hottest in the global climate record. The reading — at +0.84 C above the 20th Century average — fell just behind March of 2002 (+0.88 C) and March of 2010 (+0.87 C).

A very warm month in a trio of near record warm months that, when combined, exceeded the temperature departure for any January-through-March period in the global climate measure. The average for 2015’s first three months totaled +0.79 C above 20th Century climates, making it the hottest start for any year since 1880. The first three months of 2002 now come in as second hottest at +0.77 C — with 2007 and 2010 tied for the third hottest such period at +0.75 C.

These values are +0.99 C above 1880s averages and about +1.14 C above averages for the cool period at the start of the 20th Century. Ongoing and growing temperature departures representing a very rapid rate of temperature rise — one more than ten times faster than the warming that put an end to the last ice age.

A Heat Signature Consistent With Human-Forced Climate Change

Geographic Temperature Anomalies March NASA 2015

(Geographic disposition of temperature departures by NASA GISS.)

NASA’s geographic temperature anomalies map gives us a sense of the distribution of this extreme and record global heat.

Highest temperature departures occurred in an expansive zone from Northeastern Europe, through most of Siberia, and stretching on up into the high Arctic. This hot zone occurred in conjunction with persistent south to north air flows over the European and Asian Continents. These meridional patterns delivered substantial record heat to the Arctic, contributing to record low sea ice extent measures by end of month. This region also showed monthly anomalies in an extraordinary range of +4 to +7.5 degrees Celsius above average.

A second hot zone along the US and Canadian West Coast occurred in conjunction with a Ridiculously Resilient Ridge pattern and related south to north air flows. This region showed temperature departures in a range higher than 4 degrees Celsius above average and included extreme, 1,200 year, drought conditions for California combined with record heat and wildfires for this broader region.

Throughout the geographic temperature map provided by NASA, we find that most global regions experienced much warmer than normal temperatures — with the equatorial, tropical, and Northern Hemisphere zones showing the greatest departures.

Significant cool departures are either related to an apparent and ocean health threatening AMOC slow-down in the North Atlantic south of Greenland (Rahmstorf), include the Northeastern US and Canada, or involve the broader heat sink in the Southern Ocean. It is a distribution of broad, rapid warming and isolated localized cooling consistent with what global climate models have been predicting for human-forced climate change for many decades now.

These models predicted that the Northern Hemisphere Polar region would warm fastest and first, that the Southern Ocean would draw a greater portion of atmospheric heat into the ocean system, and that land ice melt near Greenland and West Antarctica would generate cold, fresh water flows into the nearby ocean zones and set off localized cooling. Atmospheric cooling, in this case, that would occur in isolation and in the context of a broader and rapidly warming global climate system together with a dangerous warming of the land ice sheets.

Zonal Anomalies Reveal Extraordinary Polar Amplification, Tell-Tale of Southern Ocean Heat Sink

Zonal Anomalies March

(NASA GISS zonal anomalies map for March of 2015)

The NASA zonal anomalies map is also consistent with an extraordinarily strong Northern Hemisphere polar amplification for March. One that jibes with predicted polar warming due to the human heat forcing. Here we find an extreme heat departure in the region of 85-90 North Latitude of +3.2 C for the month. Much of the Northern Hemisphere shows strong heat amplification with values above +1 C and rising in all the Latitudinal zones above 40 North.

All other zonal regions except the noted heat sink in the Southern Ocean show positive, though less extreme, temperature departures.

Overall, these are extraordinary and disturbing heat maps. Observations that validate many of the previous warming predictions. Maps that include the eerie tell-tale of an early Ocean Circulation slow-down in the North Atlantic. A set of observations that point toward a number of rather extreme weather and climate conditions for this year and for the years to follow.

Links:

GISS Surface Temperature Analysis

Atlantic Ocean Circulation Found to Slow Down

World Ocean Heartbeat Fading?

Hat Tip to Kevin Jones

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68 Comments

  1. Kevin Jones

     /  April 15, 2015

    Clear summation, Robert. As many have come to expect from you. Much appreciation.

    Reply
    • Cheers Kevin. Thanks to you and everyone for the spot-on research. 2015 is starting off like a global warming train wreck. Looks like another rough year, possibly worse than the last. There may be a silver lining in it for California, but one they may come to regret if the weather whip-lash there is too intense.

      Reply
  2. Kevin Jones

     /  April 15, 2015

    As an aside, on a longer time frame, apart from sea level rise, I keep an (worried) eye on this:http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/UpdatedFigures/Storms_Fig16.pdf solid blue 7 year running mean of airborne fraction. Between heating sea and burning forest it will one day have to reverse the overall downward (sink) of a trend.

    Reply
    • Good point, Kevin. An excellent indicator for failing sinks.

      I’m wondering now at CO2 values in the range of 403 to 405 ppm for the past week. Rather high. Wouldn’t have expected that until late April/early May. +2.2 puts us solidly at 404 for May. We are in that range now with the hourly variability all over the place.

      I’m wondering if the airborne fraction would be a leading or trailing indicator? I guess it depends on how they get the data and how up to date it is.

      Reply
    • Kevin, do you know if there’s any way I can get these Columbia.edu/Hansen graphics outside of PDF format? I’d like to post some if possible.

      Edit: Never mind. Found it in an image search. Will credit original source, as always, if I use it.

      Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  April 15, 2015

        Just caught your edit but no problem. Sent it along after original request.

        Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  April 15, 2015

        Yes. I do fly blind in this elecro-sphere but I find image searches turn up a lot! 🙂

        Reply
  3. Kevin Jones

     /  April 15, 2015

    He’s pretty available to those with concerned and sincere efforts. I could ask. If you do, tell him I sent ya! jeh1@columbia.edu Let me know which you prefer.

    Reply
    • Absolutely! If you wouldn’t mind asking on my behalf, I’d really appreciate it. Probably better coming from someone he knows directly?

      Reply
  4. Kevin Jones

     /  April 15, 2015

    Will be more than happy to.

    Reply
  5. Kevin Jones

     /  April 15, 2015

    Request done, Robert. I try not to intrude on his busy time too much but the 10 or so times I have he has been very kind and quick to reply. I told him I’d pass on his response or that he could make it here. Communicating the science to a broader audience is a big deal for him and so I’m honored to (try) to help you both!

    Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  April 16, 2015

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  April 16, 2015

      9 States Report Record Low Snowpack Amid Epic Drought
      The largest snowpack deficits are in record territory for many basins, especially in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada where single-digit percent of normal conditions prevail. Very low snowpacks are reported in most of Washington, all of Oregon, Nevada, California, parts of Arizona, much of Idaho, parts of New Mexico, three basins in Wyoming, one basin in Montana and most of Utah.

      https://ecowatch.com/2015/04/14/record-low-snowpack-drought/

      Reply
      • wili

         /  April 16, 2015

        Besides the obvious tragedy this represents for streams, rivers and general water availability, isn’t this going to also have a large effect on hydro power in the region?

        Reply
        • Absolutely. Huge sections of the west are facing issues with hydro. Rather severe impact for California in 2014.

      • That is a brutal map, Bob. Less than 25 percent of normal snowpack running all the way up the Cascades, into spots of BC and then jumping up to coastal Alaska. And we know the Alaska deficit is not due to lack of precip — as that region is getting hammered by storms. That deficit is due to heat.

        Reply
    • wili

       /  April 16, 2015

      Some info on the section missing from those maps: https://www.skepticalscience.com/western-canadas-glaciers-could-shrink-by-95.html

      “Western Canada’s glaciers could shrink by as much as 95% by 2100, study finds”

      “Even under the most stringent emissions cuts (RCP2.6, shown by the blue lines), glaciers in the Interior (bottom left graph) and Rockies (top right) regions are projected to lose around 70% of their ice compared to 2005.”

      Reply
  7. wili

     /  April 16, 2015

    Just a broad thought here: Given that last year was a weak El Nino, that this year is looking to be a much bigger one, and that it is likely that this years will extend at least into next year…is it possible that we are seeing the beginning of the kind of permanent El Nino conditions that prevailed the last time the earth was anything close to this level of CO2 and average global temps–the Mid-Pliocene?

    Reply
    • I don’t know if we can draw that conclusion yet. For one, the world was gradually cooling through the Pliocene. So the question is whether the added warmth contributed to the El Niño state or whether the transition contributed. We’ll have a chance to find out as temps keep progressing toward Pliocene levels.

      Reply
    • And for reference, the equatorial Pacific is really starting to heat up at the moment… 2.6 C anomaly and rising just east of the date line. Much of the equatorial line at 1 C or higher at the moment. This Kelvin Wave is looking like the proverbial straw.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  April 16, 2015

        “whether the added warmth contributed to the El Niño state or whether the transition contributed” Good question. But then, we are transitioning this time, too–just in the other direction. I note that this three-year El Nino we are probably in the midst of was preceded by a couple head-fakes where it started to go in that direction then modified to not-quite-El Nino; a rather odd pattern.

        But yeah, this time that Kelvin Wave and those ssts are looking pretty ominous.

        Reply
  8. – Serious news out of California.

    California drought: Delta smelt survey finds a single fish, heightening debate over water supply

    In the wild, the fish is on the brink of extinction. This month, in their April trawl survey, state Fish and Wildlife scientists caught only one of the pinky-sized, politicized fish with an outsized role in California’s water wars, an alarming indication of just how few smelt are left. And the drought may inflict the final blow.

    But here in this UC Davis-run hatchery, large tanks are filled with thousands of baby smelt — where, for now, they’ll stay, generation after generation — because the Delta’s warm, brackish and polluted water is too inhospitable.

    This countdown toward extinction represents the failure of what was once the largest estuary between Patagonia and Alaska.

    “The policy of the people of United States is not to let any species go extinct,” said fish biologist Peter Moyle, associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

    “But the situation is pretty grim,” he said. “And if it’s unfavorable for the smelt, it’s probably unfavorable for other species, as well.”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_27918392/california-drought-delta-smelt-survey-tallies-one-fish

    Reply
  9. Greg

     /  April 16, 2015

    One more graph reflecting the drought in Brazil. California’s government seems to be sounding the alarm. Not in Brazil. The reservoir level has been dropping since 2010 reflecting the long-term drought. Despite attempts by the Sao Paulo water authority to manipulate the numbers for the Cantareira system, the solid green line is the mark of “dead volume” and the new draw (for millions of citizens mind you) is negative, created by pumping water against gravity over the dam outlets. The track would be even more dramatically downward in the last couple of months had it not been for major reductions in water pressures and rotating rationing:

    Reply
    • It’s tough to see an end to this crisis. The weather may shift back to more favorable conditions during some year in the future. But the climate for Brazil is already dramatically shifted toward a water poverty scenario.

      Reply
  10. http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/15/sao-paulo-water-crisis-favela-shortages-poorest

    There is more reporting on São Paulo coming from the Guardian than from mainstream Brazilian media.

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  April 16, 2015

      Water, water, every where,
      And all the boards did shrink.
      Water, water, every where,
      Nor any drop to drink. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

      Reply
  11. And this a a car-drive through the grass/forest fires in southern Siberia on 13th April, afternoon:

    fires are still spreading around Baikal, here is the satellite view of the situation:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=85707&eocn=home&eoci=nh

    Alex

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  April 16, 2015

      Take me for a ride in your car, car…. –Woody Guthrie

      Reply
    • Terrible, surreal. The 2015 burn season looks to be a bad one in a long list of the same. Huge outbreak and very early for this year. Already getting a dark coloration for cloud cover/weather systems and this is early/mid April…

      Reply
      • Not the Beach Boys – a slow start, but a goody.

        Reply
      • james cole

         /  April 17, 2015

        RT this morning reported 30 people dead in these fires, several missing, 450 homes destroyed. Even their news report sounded a bit alarmist. These Siberian fires are becoming a yearly event, and that sounds like climate, not weather.

        Reply
        • It’s definitely not weather. We have a doubling of the rate of Arctic fires and fires in permafrost zones now. A full on doubling and we are still heating up. Further, the size of some of these fires is epic. Fire thunderstorms abound and the burn scars are plainly visible in the satellite turning the land into a patchwork. This happens every year and with extraordinary intensity. Each single year may not be worse than the last, but the scale is ramping up, the burning seasons come earlier and earlier and the risk remains that new records are broken and things we haven’t yet seen happen in this year or next year or the next. It’s just brutal, James. Just brutal.

  12. And some more drone footage of the aftermath:

    Reply
  13. Kevin Jones

     /  April 16, 2015

    Robert: Dr. Hansen replies, “Sure, our point is to make the results available–PDF is what people usually want–let [his colleagues] know if you [we] have alternative suggestions.”

    Reply
    • A GIF or PNG in a link or under layer would be great. Not asking them to change their entire format. PDF just makes their graphs a bit less accessible.

      Reply
  14. Kevin Jones

     /  April 16, 2015

    Looks about 9C above base for area inside 10 degree radius of North Pole.http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

    Reply
    • It’s already mid-May for the high Arctic. If this pattern persists, North Pole is at risk of melting out this year.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  April 16, 2015

        Robert, I take it you’re not referring to just melt ponds on top of the ice, but ‘ice out’ around the North Pole as a possibility in late-summer? Amazing. Great series of recent articles btw.

        Reply
        • That meridional flow is extending well past the pole. -3.2 C at the North Pole last night — IN MID APRIL… That’s a huge heat transfer. If that continues through late summer, yeah, I’d say blue ocean event for that region. The pattern could switch. But patterns have tended to stick lately. So it’s worth keeping a keep watch on.

          Beaufort is also breaking up into a million little pieces right now. Belies what some of the models are saying about sea ice thickness in that region. You don’t have thick ice breaking up like tissue paper as this ice is.

      • Mark from New England

         /  April 16, 2015

        Robert, if current patterns hold and there’s open ocean at the north pole late this summer, how long will it have been, approx., since the north pole was open water in the past? 3 millions years ago? Longer?

        Reply
        • Consistently? We’d probably have to go back at least 150,000 years to find a time when this happened with any noted frequency. Full Arctic High Arctic melt out to the Pole (blue water event) not likely to have ever happened during the Holocene.

          Still an early call. But if this pattern continues it’s bad news for that ice.

      • What I always think about is the fact that the Arctic has been consistently frozen long enough for entire ecosystems and new species to evolve, from the polar bear on down the food chain. And we have caused that region to go from meters of ice to open ocean in a single human lifetime. It’s tragic and devastating.

        Reply
  15. climatehawk1

     /  April 16, 2015

    Comes the dawn? Broadcast meteorologists increasingly convinced manmade #climate change happening http://wpo.st/bL3D0

    Reply
    • Used to get a bit of flak from some of the weather guys. Getting more questions than flak at this point. Glad to see the anecdote holding up in this survey.

      Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  April 16, 2015

        Robert: Your suggestion passed along to Dr. Hansen’s team. (He/they are great.)

        Reply
        • Thank you Kevin and thanks to them as well! Might or might not be an easy fix for them. I hope so, though.

      • climatehawk1

         /  April 16, 2015

        Me too. Broadcast meteorologists get a heck of a lot more eyeballs than climate science.

        Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  April 16, 2015

    A new study published online April 13, 2015, in the journal Nature Geoscience finds that prolonged wind bursts originating in the western Pacific can have a strong effect on whether an El Niño event will occur and how severe it is likely to be. In addition, the paper identifies three distinct varieties or “flavors” of El Niño, and explains how these westerly wind bursts (WWBs) can determine which of these flavors will take shape. The findings should help refine future predictions of these global-scale climate events.

    “These westerly wind bursts are intraseasonal–they’re not weather, they’re not climate, but somewhere in between,” said Raghu Murtugudde, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Maryland who is a coauthor on the study. “Our study shows that the wind bursts are definitely having an effect. We better learn to predict them if we are going to have skillful El Niño predictions.”

    The researchers analyzed 50 years of tropical Pacific sea surface temperature and westerly wind burst data. They found differences, especially when comparing the data from this year’s weak El Niño event with the record-breaking event of 1997/98.

    http://www.reportingclimatescience.com/news-stories/article/wind-bursts-strongly-affect-el-nino-severity.html

    Reply
    • Very strong WWB clearly influenced the current powerful Kelvin Wave. 2014/2015 El Nino in the process of shifting from weak to moderate at this time. Long range models still show a Super as a potential. But those aren’t very accurate at this time.

      They need to account for MJO if they’re going to work on predicting WWB. Lots of complexity to account for.

      Reply
  17. climatehawk1

     /  April 16, 2015

    Geoengineering research ‘act of desperation’ due to uncertain impacts http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32334528 #climate #globalwarming

    Reply
  18. Kevin Jones

     /  April 16, 2015

    Looking at Ob River and Churchill-Nelson watersheds while noticing rapid Arctic & Hudson Bay ice loss. These regions had a ‘hot’ winter. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/Ob_watershed.png http://energyjustice.mcc.org/system/files/B_roll_photos/Watershed%20map.jpg

    Reply
  19. Kevin Jones

     /  April 16, 2015

    Reply
  20. — DATELINE WEST COAST NA & E. PAC FISH – DELTA SMELT ALMOST GONE NOW SARDINES IN SEVERE DECLINE (STARVING SE LIONS AS WELL)

    Federal fisheries regulators close West Coast sardine season to prevent overfishing

    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Federal regulators have approved an early closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California to prevent overfishing.

    They’re hoping to save the West Coast sardine fishery from the kind of collapse that led to the demise of Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name set in Monterey, California.

    Meeting outside Santa Rosa, California, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted Wednesday to halt the current season as early as possible, affecting about 100 fishing boats. The season normally would end June 30.

    Earlier this week, the council shut down the next sardine season, which was set to begin July 1.

    http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2015/04/15/federal-fisheries-regulators-halt-west-coast-sardine-season

    Reply
    • – And from the late Ed Ricketts via eathisland-dot-org:

      Pacific sardines are in the midst of a crash, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1950s. When asked where the sardines had gone in the years following World War II, scientist Ed Ricketts famously answered, “They’re in cans.”

      Reply
      • – If anybody’s interested, here’s a bit from an LAT obit about Rimmon C. Fay. A real ocean hero of mine who was connected and committed to his world. Because of this, he had a special ability in locating marine life which one person characterized as ” Rim’s cognition.”
        As a naturalist, I relate to this as something of the highest order — and a skill to hone.
        On rewarding field trips, my wife thought that I could “Call up” the butterflies, etc. No, that’s not it. I just “listened” with all of my senses — and let my intuition guide me. It almost always worked.
        Years earlier, two areas of study helped me with this.
        One was on the subject of precognition, intuition. mixed with mindful focus — or just stilling the mind, and letting data and sensory info into the mind unfiltered.
        Number two, was a gift book I received of author/naturalist Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”. Which is all about stopping to notice the natural world and it’s inhabitants and their setting and influences.

        ###

        ‘A UCLA-trained biochemist and professional diver who collected specimens for biomedical research, Fay focused public attention on industrial discharges of the pesticide DDT off the Palos Verdes peninsula that made fish too toxic to eat and nearly drove the California brown pelican to extinction. He was among the first to call for Los Angeles to halt dumping of sewage sludge, a once-quixotic quest that drew kindred souls in the 1980s who joined with him to launch the movement to clean up coastal waters.

        He spent six years as a state coastal commissioner, until complaints to Sacramento leaders about his uncompromising anti-growth attitude and open outrage about damaging coastal wetlands and beachfront got him fired. He was replaced on the panel by a developer.

        “He was so much like Doc Ricketts,” said Dorothy Green, who joined with Fay and others to launch the nonprofit group Heal the Bay. “He earned his living collecting animals for research. He drank too much. He would go out diving at night — alone.”

        “He has probably spent more time underwater than any man on the planet,” said Harold Dunnigan, a former Navy diver and retired Los Angeles County lifeguard who taught Fay how to dive in 1955. Dunnigan said he could easily out-compete Fay in swimming contests, but underwater, few could keep up with him. “He was at one with the ocean.”
        http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-fay4jan04-story.html#page=1

        Reply
  21. Mexican Oil Spill Leaves 100K Without Drinking Water

    Greenpeace Mexico says incident underscores problems with ‘dirty’ oil industry

    An oil spill in the Mexican state of Tabasco has left roughly 100,000 people without drinking water on Wednesday.

    The spill, which occurred on Sunday, was reportedly the result of a Pemex pipeline being breached by oil thieves.

    It polluted two rivers, forcing the shutdown of four water treatment plants, which initially left half a million people without drinking water.

    Mayor of the state capital of Villahermosa, Humberto de los Santos Betruy, said the spill caused “heavy ecological damage.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/04/16/mexican-oil-spill-leaves-100k-without-drinking-water

    Reply
  1. First three months of 2015 were warmest on record

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