There’s no rational reason at all to doubt that the globe is heating up. In fact, those born after 1985 haven’t experienced a single year of average temperatures. For them, even the brief two year period following Pinatubo’s massive injection of shading aerosols into the stratosphere was but a minor less-hot spell. One that failed to, for even a short while, return the world to more normal temperatures.
(The global temperature record from 1880 through 2014 as provided by NOAA. As is plainly visible, the temperature increase since 1880 has been extraordinary — particularly during the years following 1975 as greenhouse gas buildup rates rapidly climbed to unprecedented levels. Image source: NOAA Global Analysis.)
Those living in this time of increasingly rarefied and weirded weather may as well be named, not by the colloquially meaningless terms generations Y and Z, but by the more contextually appropriate monikers — generation climate destabilization (Y) and generation climate chaos (Z). It’s worth noting that such names may seem unfair due to the fact that neither generation made the choices that would force them to experience such severe disruptions. No, instead they were the unwitting victims of choices made by the many previous generations who failed or neglected to rein in the power of the fossil fuel giants before climate catastrophes could begin to take hold. These new generations, instead, are the unfortunate ones who would inhabit the years when humankind left any climate context it had ever experienced — at least since the dawn of human civilization itself, and possibly since the birth of humankind altogether. The first of many generations we have doomed to face the long, bad years of a worsening climate disruption.
This year, the year of 2015, is shaping up to be the most recent worst of a hot bunch. And October of this year is looking like a horrendous outlier hot month. A month testing the new extreme range of record heat that continues to build throughout the global climate system. A ramping warmth we have no chance of stopping at all unless we also swiftly halt the burning of fossil fuels.
October of 2015 Starting to Come in as Hottest Month Ever Recorded
As I type these words that represent my 799th plea for the global community to act decisively on climate change, to turn away from the wretched industrial interests that are dragging increasingly large chunks of our world into a climate chaos of ever-worsening scope, the temperature where I live in Gaithersburg Maryland is a balmy 66 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about 8 degrees hotter than the typical high temperature for today. Overall, the month of November will come in, if forecasts are correct, between 1 and 2 degrees C hotter than average for my location. This may not seem like much. But since the region has been sitting in a trough zone — with storms and frontal systems tending to drive in from the north and bring in Canadian and Arctic air, these continuous high temperature departures seem rather odd. Especially when one considers them from the meteorological and climate perspective.
(Polar amplification again starkly visible in the November 16, 2015 Climate Reanalyzer temperature anomalies graphic.)
As we look at the global temperature anomaly map for today, we can see that most places around the globe are experiencing above average heat for even the hotter than normal 1979 to 2000 base period. Sections of Asia, Alaska, East Greenland and parts of the Southern Ocean are the noted exceptions. But when one considers that this snapshot is in the context of a 1979-2000 average that, as we can seen in the NOAA graph (top of this post) was much hotter than normal, we begin to realize that even most of the white and light blue sections should be showing up in various shades of orange. And this is especially true when we consider how much the world has warmed up since the late 1800s.
Most ominous, however, is the massive bloom of heat over the Arctic spiking into the range of 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) above average. This heat spike, directly over a section of the Arctic that some have noted could become a hotbed of oceanic and permafrost methane and CO2 feedback to human heating of the globe, is yet one more plainly visible burst of what is called polar amplification. A kind of tilting of heat toward the poles as the Earth warms up. An unevenly rapid heating of the regions that contain most of the world’s ice capable of raising sea levels. An ominous warming of a zone that contains a great portion of the world’s vast carbon stores. Extreme warming where we want to see it least.
And it is all happening in a time that is certainly the hottest in the 125-135 year global climate records of the major reporting agencies. A period likely hotter than during any time in the Holocene. A period potentially hotter than at any time during the last 110,000 years.
For according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, October of 2015 came in as the hottest month ever recorded in all of its 125 year global climate record. The departure at +0.53 C above the 1981-2000 baseline, +0.85 C above the 20th Century average, and about +1.25 C above temperatures during the late 1890s is far into a range that would well be considered more normal for the Eemian interglacial occurring between 110,000 and 130,000 years ago than for any normal time during the current interglacial. It is also +0.02 C above September of 2015’s new record high set just last month. A continuation of this year’s trend of extreme warming in Japan’s global monitor.
(Global average temperatures for October of 2015 were the hottest for any month in all of Japan’s 125 year global climate record. Image source. Japan Meteorological Agency.)
There’s quite a lot of heat in this graph. For what we see is a temperature range that’s about 0.75 C away from the UN’s so called ‘safe limit’ of 2 C total warming above 1880s values. And what we also see is that the last monster El Nino year of 1997-1998 is increasingly being left in the dust. In fact, 1997 doesn’t show up as any of the top 5 record hot years for October. According to JMA, the new top five record holders are now: 1st. 2015 (+0.53°C), 2nd. 2014 (+0.34°C), 3rd. 2003 (+0.24°C), 4th. 2006 (+0.23°C), and 5th. 2012 (+0.22°C). 1997 now holds the place of sixth hottest on record for October at +0.21 C above the 1981-2000 benchmark or around 0.32 C behind October of 2015. A widening gap that plainly shows that though strong El Ninos have the climatological force to drive new records, the underlying driver pushing the entire record inexorably higher is an unimaginable pace of burning fossils fuels pushing an equally unprecedented rate of global greenhouse gas accumulation.
Pushing us to higher and higher extreme temperature thresholds that are straining the climate and geophysical Earth Systems with which we are currently accustomed to the breaking point.