Japan Meteorological Agency — September of 2015 was Hottest on Record — NASA not Far Behind

With a monster El Nino firing off in the Pacific and with atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations now in excess of 480 parts per millions CO2 equivalent, global temperatures for 2015 continue to shatter new all-time records. It’s a sad upshot of continued energy dominance by myopic fossil fuel special interests and the big money investors who have backed them now for the better part of 135 years.

As of September of 2015, temperatures in the global measure provided by Japan’s Meteorological Agency rocketed to 0.5 C above the 1981 to 2000 average or about 1.2 C above average temperatures last seen at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Global temperature anomalies September of 2015

(Japan’s Meteorological Agency shows that global temperatures sky-rocketed to a new record in September. Image source: JMA.)

This departure is a whopping 0.4 C above baseline rates of increase and a significant 0.15 C above the old record high for September set just last year (2014). Perhaps more notable is that all of the five hottest Septembers have occurred since 2009. A very strong global warming signal for the month and one that has left the 1997-1998 El Nino years in the dust.

NASA Shows September of 2015 was Second Hottest on Record

Though NOAA has yet to chime in with its monthly global temperature and climate analysis, NASA’s own GISS temperature monitor also shows September hitting near record heat. According to NASA, September of 2015 came in 0.81 C hotter than its own 20th Century benchmark average and about 1.01 C hotter than 1880s averages. This puts September of 2015 as a solid 2nd hottest in NASA’s record and just behind the new record set for September just last year.

NASA’s measure shows that four of the five hottest Septembers have all occurred since 2012 (ranking 2014 first hottest at +0.90 C, 2015 second hottest at +0.81 C, 2013 tied for third hottest with 2005 at +0.77 C, and 2012 as fourth hottest at +0.75 C). 2015’s +0.81 C departure is also well in excess of the +0.56 C departure seen in 1997 during the ramp up of what was then the strongest El Nino on record with averages for Septembers of 2014 and 2015 now at about +0.30 C above 1997 levels. A jump that falls neatly in the range of temperature increases predicted by IPCC and following the +0.15 to +0.20 C per decade accelerated rate of increase seen globally since around 1980.

Despite Strong El Nino, Northern Hemisphere Polar Amplification Really Heats up in September

NASA’s geographic distribution of temperature anomalies map tells a rather interesting tale for September. One that may have implications for Northern Hemisphere weather further down the line as Fall and Winter progress.

Land Ocean Temp Map September of 2015

(NASA’s global temperature anomalies map shows strong warming at both the Equator and the Northern Hemisphere Pole during September. A signature that hints strong south to north heat transfers are at play. Image source: NASA GISS.)

As expected with a strong El Nino, we see a lot of heat building up along the Equatorial zone and especially in the Eastern Pacific where land-ocean temperatures hit a strong range of +2 to +4 C above average. A bit odd, however, is a strong heat plume visibly rising off this hot zone, traversing the western land mass of North America and entering the Arctic through the gateway of the Canadian Archipelago (CAA). Notably, high Arctic temperature anomalies in the zone north of the CAA also spike to levels in the range of +2 to +4 C above average. It’s a kind of south to north heat transfer that we would expect to see less and less of as El Nino strengthens and the storm track flattens out. But ridging over the North American West along with associated heat continued to remain in force throughout September providing a pathway for heat to enter the upper Latitudes.

Other strong, though somewhat less robust, Equator to Pole heat transfers appear visible over Europe on up through Scandinavia, and ranging along a diagonal between India, China, Mongolia and Kamchatka. It’s a heat signature picture of a mangled Jet Stream completed by trough zones and cool pools over Alaska, in the ominous region of the North Atlantic between Greenland and England, in Central Asia, and just east of Japan. Most notably, the cool pool associated with a weakening Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and all-too-likely due to the decadally increasing rates of glacial melt outflows from Greenland remains a dominant feature in the North Atlantic. It’s a cool pool signature that was predicted in almost all the global climate models in association with overall human forced warming of the atmosphere and ocean. One that can drive weather instability in the North Atlantic. And one that has been a nearly constant features since at least 2012.

NASA zonal anomalies

(Zonal anomalies graphic also shows strong equatorial and polar warming. Image source. NASA.)

NASA’s zonal anomalies map paints a picture of both Equatorial and Northern Hemisphere Polar heat with temperatures well above average over most regions of the world. The primary exception is Antarctica and the Southern Ocean which, during recent years, has acted as an atmosphere-to-ocean heat sink. Notably, a very strong storm track in the region of 50 South Latitude has driven powerful winds which have forced atmospheric heat into the ocean depths while also forming an atmospheric barrier to heat conveyance over Antarctica.

High Latitude regions between 85 and 90 North showed the most extreme temperature departures with a +1.6 C positive anomaly for the region. Temperatures drop somewhat to between +1 and +1.3 C from 30 to 70 North before rising again to around +1.4 C near the Equator. Anomalies drop off southward ranging from near +0.7 C around 30 South before dropping into negative values in the atmosphere to ocean heat uptake zone in the Southern Ocean near 60 South.

Winter Weather for 2015 May Feature Some Unexpected Twists

Overall dispersal of heat shows a notably high degree of Northern Hemisphere polar amplification at a time when El Nino should be spiking heat at the Equator, increasing Jet Stream strength, and pushing the Northern Hemisphere Polar zone to cool somewhat. The fact that the Pole remained at higher positive temperature anomalies than the Equator during September even as El Nino cracked +2 C above average heat in the Nino 3.4 zone hints that this Winter may show more waviness in the Jet Stream than is typical during a strong El Nino year. As a result, weather patterns typical to El Nino during Northern Hemisphere Winter may show marked variance.

If this is the case, rainfall amounts for Southern and Central California may be less than expected for a typical strong El Nino year. Heavy rainfall events may shift northward toward Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. A northward angling storm track over Western North America would tend to reinforce trough development in the east while providing major storms for the US East Coast and Northeast as the higher amplitude Jet Stream wave taps more Arctic air than is typical. Meanwhile, warm waters off the US East Coast in the range of +2 to +5 C above average will provide both heat and moisture as fuel for storms moving down any trough feature. Extra heat and moisture provided by El Nino will also tend to preferentially increase storm intensity all along the storm track even as temperature differentials at the sea surface in the North Atlantic provide further instability for storms that are likely to hit high intensity along a track between Iceland and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, these features, combined with warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the newly ice-liberated Barents, could result in warmer and stormier conditions for Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Globally, we are likely in for a record hot Northern Hemisphere winter for 2015. Combined with one of the strongest El Ninos on record, such a high temperature excession may well put us into a number of entirely new, and potentially very stormy, weather contexts. Comprehensive monitoring and updates to follow.


Japan’s Meteorological Agency


Monster El Nino + Climate Change Means Not Normal Winter is On the Way

World Ocean Heartbeat Fading?

Living in a World at 480 CO2e

Leave a comment


  1. – I see it, this: “strong heat plume visibly rising off this hot zone, traversing the western land mass of North America and entering the Arctic through the gateway of the Canadian Archipelago.”
    I wonder how constant it stay at this location or if it will move W or E.
    The PNW, BC and AK need cold — and lots of snow. Quickly too.

    • I think Alaska and NW Canada are in for a stormy next two months. Beyond that, the train may swing more southward. This situation is a mess.

  2. labmonkey2

     /  October 16, 2015

    NOAA winter/spring forecast is out:

    Fits your view of the ‘waviness’ perfectly. I’m sure there is some variability in this, too. Video is 2:14 and covers from April this year. Nice comprehensive review.

    • Negative AO increases waviness in the Jet. From the most recent AO forecast:

      “Longer term we continue to favor a negative bias to the AO. Though not as rapid as the past two Octobers, Siberian snow cover has advanced this month at an above normal rate, Arctic sea ice extent remains below normal, and active atmospheric blocking favors the likelihood of troposphere-stratosphere coupling. All three factors favor a negative winter AO.”


      The question is where do the troughs and ridges set up?

      • rustj2015

         /  October 16, 2015

        I’d like your appraisal of this graphic tool and its date.
        I’ve not used this overlay and don’t understand whether this looks normal or not.
        It seems to have quite a trough, to me.,35.200,-106.645,4

        • Looks like a good tool to me. Thanks for posting it here. A great addition to the Earth Nullschool product. Looks like storms running up through Alaska and Northwestern Canada, then sweeping down south and eastward toward the US. The RRR is weaker than it has been but it’s still enough to kick the storms northward. On a related to note, the rains in SoCal aren’t really associated with any kind of significant trough, just lows and moisture backing up toward them from the tropical pattern to the south.

      • rustj2015, I sure like the link. Thanks.

  3. Maria

     /  October 16, 2015

    Storms of ours not waiting for grandkids to grow up. 4-5inches/hour reported in Antelope Valley, CA

    I-5 shut down by mudslides as flash flooding hits Southern California

  4. Maria

     /  October 16, 2015

    Robert, I got the 4-5 inches from this tweet. I still don’t know how to copy tweets properly here. ;-( Shelby GradVerified account
    Scary weather situation in Antelope Valley: Rainfall rates at 4-5 inches an hour; 60 mph; severe mudflows.

  5. Reminds one of a large rocket like the Apollo after liftoff. Every minute it is at a new record hieght, but what is in the offing is “One giant leap for mankind”.

    Sent from my iPad 🙏🏻


    • rustj2015

       /  October 16, 2015

      Petronius’ Satyricon: … ‘If you add it up aright, everywhere is shipwreck.’ Everywhere is shipwreck, and then we start moving. We start moving because we have to. It is a matter of life against death. The sea in which we are shipwrecked is history.
      Norman O. Brown, Apocalypse or Metamorphosis

      • A good quote for our age. And a good frame to consider for our present context — apocalypse or metamorphosis.

        Worth noting that the archaic definition for apocalypse means to uncover or reveal.

  6. wili

     /  October 16, 2015

    That IS quite a graph, isn’t it!

  7. Griffin

     /  October 16, 2015

    Yes Maria, the rainfall rates have been insane in CA this evening!!

    • Video footage of these slides with trucks and cars buried in that thick quicksand mud was horrifying! I’m driving east in early November and I’m praying for a reprieve. Brave. New. World. Are you anywhere near these storms, Griffin?

      • Edit to say that I’m not a CA native. But have lived here on and off—but never during a precipitation disaster. Loma Prieta is my only experience of the Earth releasing its fury.

      • Griffin

         /  October 16, 2015

        Not any more Maria. I am in Massachusetts now, and Robert’s warnings of storms to come have my attention! (he nailed it last year)

  8. redskylite

     /  October 16, 2015

    The latest NASA GISS figures show that in the Northern Hemisphere Land-Ocean surface temperatures were by far the highest since records began at a massive +1.13°C above the 1951-1980 mean. The first time it’s been over 1 degree in September. The Southern Hemisphere was much more subdued and possibly disguises the global average (which was a much more modest +0.81°C).
    My current understanding of climate research is that the Southern Hemisphere generally lags behind the Northern hemisphere by around 200 years, but eventually catches up, so the NH average is much more meaningful and alarming to me.
    A latest bit of research from the University of Southampton makes interesting reading today . . . Tipping points identified below the magic 2°C. The more I read the more I surmise that 2°C is a very generous target.
    “They found evidence of 41 cases of regional abrupt changes in the ocean, sea ice, snow cover, permafrost and terrestrial biosphere. Many of these events occur for global warming levels of less than two degrees, a threshold sometimes presented as a safe limit. However, although most models predict one or more abrupt regional shifts, any specific occurrence typically appears in only a few models.”

  9. The anomaly pattern is interesting and not what I would expect either. I do wonder if the amplitude will persist throughout winter, and if so, how severe the storms will be in the US east and Western EUR



    • labmonkey2

       /  October 16, 2015

      As the slope of the curve changes, so do the days of our lives…. got scuba gear?

    • That’s the big ball of yarn to unravel, isn’t it? Jet Stream today shows the west coast ridge still in effect.

      This obscene heat in EPAC combines with the RRR at the moment. If we continue to have these kinds of teleconnections this winter, the east coast is going to be the region getting hit with the bombs.

  10. climatehawk1

     /  October 16, 2015


  11. Ouse M.D.

     /  October 16, 2015

    Can this be correct?

    • The GBL model runs pretty thin. Based on other observations the thickest ice we have north of the CAA is a decent swath of 4 meter ice. But there’s a lot that’s pretty thin. Here’s another measure for comparison.

      Note that the less than 2 meter ice is still pretty prevalent. Ironically, a good amount of this thin ice is near the polar region.

  12. Colorado Bob

     /  October 16, 2015

    Drivers spend long night on road as mudslides engulf nearly 200 vehicles

    Nearly 200 vehicles, including 75 tractor-trailers, are trapped on California 58 east of Tehachapi in up to 20 feet of mud and debris after torrential rains pummeled the area and forced drivers to flee.

  13. Calls for Exxon RICO investigation gaining momentum. I wonder, how since we’re in the heat of a presidential election, this will unfold.

    “”Two California congressmen have called on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to open an investigation into whether ExxonMobil violated federal laws by “failing to disclose truthful information” about climate change.

    Democratic Reps. Mark DeSaulnier and Ted Lieu, both members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said they were “alarmed” by the possibility that Exxon withheld significant climate change information and went so far as to try to discredit the science confirming global warming.””

    • Often, over the 20th Century, the giant oil companies were considered unassailable. I wonder now if what we’re looking at is more a ‘house of cards’ kind of situation. This is big news when key government officials start speaking out and calling for investigations. The issue here is a major threat to public health and how the public has been misinformed and misled in such a way as to continue to take actions that are harmful to life and livelihood.

      • Well it was Vladimir Lenin who said that nothing happens for decades; then in a few weeks, decades’ worth of events happen.

  14. – A succession extremes in North America. “drought conditions… replaced… heavy rains and flooding…”

    Drought Disaster Declared In Mississippi
    October 16, 2015

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today reported that agriculture producers in half of Mississippi’s 82 counties have been made eligible to apply for certain U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance due to recent drought conditions.

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in two separate actions, has designated 14 Mississippi counties as primary natural disaster areas as a result of drought conditions. Another 27 counties are named as contiguous disaster counties.

    “The drought conditions that replaced the heavy rains and flooding that troubled Mississippi agriculture producers this spring are affecting large portions of our state.”

  15. – There are two storms in the North — one in the Bering Sea east of Kamchatka — one in the Gulf of AK.
    And two further south and east of Japan- both have showing strong rotation.
    Busy places.

  16. Colorado Bob

     /  October 16, 2015

    How Indonesia’s gigantic fires are making global warming worse

    Experts say that along with dramatic global coral bleaching, thousands of fires across Indonesia represents the next sign of an intensifying global El Niño event. And the consequences, in this case, could affect the entire globe’s atmosphere.

  17. Colorado Bob

     /  October 16, 2015

    French president in Iceland to see global warming’s damage on a shrinking glacier

  18. To my untrained eye, it appears that the JMA graph shows that AGW has been proceeding on a much more rapid clip since 1993 than it had been from 1900 to 1992.

    And every year since about 2000 or so our weather has been getting weirder and weirder.

    So everybody, post your weird weather here…

  19. Colorado Bob

     /  October 16, 2015

    Canada’s frozen north feels financial burn of global warming

    YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories, Canada, Oct 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) –
    Climate change is taking a heavy economic toll on Canada’s far north, with buildings collapsing as melting permafrost destroys foundations, rivers running low and wildfires all a drain on the region’s limited finances, senior government officials said.

    A sprawling area spanning the Arctic Circle with a population of less than 50,000, Canada’s Northwest Territories has spent more than $140 million in the last two years responding to problems linked to global warming, the territory’s finance minister said.

    “Our budgets are getting squeezed dramatically from climate change,” Finance and Environment Minister J. Michael Miltenberger told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

  20. Svante Törnquist

     /  October 20, 2015

    To me it looks as if storms forming outside US east coast will be hindered by the cool pool SE of Greenland. But I am not a meteorologist so I am not sure. But looking at what happened to Joaquin it seems probable that storms in northern Europe would be unlikely to become extreme. Or what do you think?

    • Depends on the winter storms, I think. We should look at the winter storms very closely this year.

  1. Japan Meteorological Agency — September of 2015 was Hottest on Record — NASA not Far Behind | GarryRogers Nature Conservation and Science Fiction (#EcoSciFi)

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