2015’s Cruel Climate Count Continues as NASA Shows July Was Hottest On Record

Andrew Freeman is right. It’s been a cruel, cruel summer. Hothouse mass casualty events, spurred by a ridiculous accumulation of heat trapping gasses in the Earth atmosphere, have spanned the Northern Hemisphere. The result has been thousands of lives lost and the hospitalization of tens of thousands more as global temperatures rocketed to levels not seen in probably 100,000 years (related — Hothouse Mass Casualties Strike Egypt).

July of 2015 Hottest on Record

Now, in a record-shattering hot year featuring extreme weather weirdness and an emerging monster El Nino, yet one more record has fallen. For according to both NASA and Japan’s Meteorological Agency (JMA), July of 2015 squashed and smashed previous record hot Julys 2011 (NASA) and 1998 (JMA) to take the title as hottest July yet.

July Temperatures Japan Meteorological Agency

(Japan’s Meteorological Agency shows July of 2015 was the hottest on record by a wide margin.)

In the JMA graph, beginning in 1890, you can plainly see the new July record is well above the +0.67 C per Century warming trend line of the last 125 years. A new high that leaves the 1998 super El Nino year in the dust.

For JMA, that’s 0.72 C above the 20th Century average and about 1 C above 1890.  For NASA, global temperatures also hit a similarly hot range. July of 2015 was 0.75 C above their 20th Century base line — putting it at about 0.95 C hotter than 1880s values when annual record keeping began. Now we only wait on NOAA’s report coming out in a few days for a final confirmation of this obscene July heat.

2015 On Track For Hottest Year By a Wide Margin

Focusing in on the NASA measure, we find that January through July temperatures are setting a course for a record shattering 2015. Overall, global temperatures during that seven month period were 0.8 C above NASA’s 20th Century benchmark and about 1 C above 1880s values. A level of heat that, if it were simply maintained, would beat out previous record hot year, 2014, by a substantial margin (0.07 C).

To the layman, these may seem like small numbers except when one considers that just 3.5 C of cooling from Holocene climates means the start of a new ice age. In just 135 years we’ve hit 30 percent of the difference between the Holocene and an ice age — but on the side of hot. Moreover, an annual temperature climb of 0.07 C equals 7 degrees Celsius warming if maintained for one Century. So a one year jump in that range is a pretty wide margin, especially when we consider that we’re now experiencing back-to-back hottest years on record.

El Nino + Climate Change In the NASA Graphic

NASA Temp Map July 2015

(NASA’s July distribution of hot and cold temperature anomalies shows a world that’s tipping more and more toward climate extremes. Image source: NASA GISS.)

Geospatially, the representation of hot and cold temperature extremes in the NASA map hints at an absolute mess for July weather patterns. While abnormal and extreme warmth dominated the East Siberian, Chukchi, and Beaufort airs, a plug of below average temperatures hovered over the Laptev. Two substantial chimneys of heat extended into the Arctic — one exploding up from the Hot Blob in the Pacific and another stretching diagonally over the Lake Baikal region of Russia (Related: The Dry Land Burned Like Grass). Most of Western Europe baked while the Yamal region cooled. In the North Atlantic the Climate Change signature and storm generating cool pool maintained — gearing up to throw a few wicked cyclones at the British Isles in the midst of, what should be placid, summer.

And all across the equatorial region anomalous heat built — pushing monthly temperatures from 1-4 degrees Celsius above average in some of the typically hottest regions of the world. In this analysis we must pause for a moment to point out the awesome and terrible wave of heat building up from the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, telegraphing through the Hot Blobs off the North American West Coast and extending on up through the Bering Sea. A teleconnection feature that must fall if California is to have any hope of receiving a drought busting set of storms this Winter — monster El Nino or no.

The mid-to-equatorial latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere were also abnormally warm with few regions showing any departure into cooler than ‘normal’ in this zone. Meanwhile, the Southern Polar Region was a mess of hot ridges and cold troughs indicative of a very wavy Jet Stream pattern for the zone. In particular, a ridge blazing south through the Weddell Sea set off some much warmer than normal readings for Coats Land and the Ronne Ice Shelf.

El Nino Zonal Signature

(Zonal temperature anomalies for July show a clear signature of El Nino and a climate change related heat sink in the Southern Ocean. Image source: NASA GISS.)

In the NASA zonal map, we can clearly see the signature of El Nino. Equatorial temperatures are the hottest in the measure pushing to +1.3 degrees Celsius above average over the world’s belt-line. To the north, heat gradually tapered off — still maintaining near +1 C through the 40 degree line before dipping down to around +0.8 to +0.3 C in the 50s, 60s, and 70s and then rising again to around +0.7 C at the pole.

To the south, anomalies rapidly plunged throughout most zones — dipping to +0.35 C in the range of the furious fifties (50 degrees South Latitude). In the oceanic heat sink region where fresh and icy water met the warmer, saltier waters of the Southern Ocean, heat uptake by that ocean-atmosphere interface hit an extreme level as negative zonal anomalies spiked to -1.4 C in the range of 65 South Latitude. This ocean heat uptake and related atmospheric cooling is associated with a global warming related fresh water outflow due to Antarctic glacial melt — the Southern Hemisphere version of the North Atlantic cool pool.  Zonal temperatures swing again higher, hitting +0.6 C at the land glacier edge in the region between 70 and 80 South, before dipping to around -0.7 C in the Antarctic interior near 90 South.

Conditions in Context

During the record hot July of 2015 temperature and weather hit new extremes. Variation between hot and cold temperatures became greater over many regions of the globe as hot and cool pools grew in prominence and related weather influence. Glacial melt and ocean current change related cool pools dominated the North Atlantic and a band near 70 South in the Southern Ocean. Meanwhile, extreme equatorial heat associated with El Nino developed teleconnections with high amplitude ridges — especially with the Hot Blob related Ridiculously Resilient Ridge over the Northeastern Pacific.

In addition, a synergy developed between high ocean temperatures, related high humidity, and a number of dangerous heatwaves. Near record and record hot waters in the regions of India, Pakistan, and Japan synergistically enabled deadly, mass-casualty producing heatwaves in those regions. This is due to the fact that hot waters enable higher wet bulb temperatures over land — pushing wet bulbs, at times, close to the human survival limit of 35 C.

With Global temperatures now at 1 C above 1880s levels we begin to witness hints of what a human-forced hothouse may look like. But what we see now are only the early, easy outliers.

Links:

Japan’s Meteorological Agency

NASA GISS

2015’s Cruel Summer

Hothouse Mass Casualties Strike Egypt

India Sees Worst Flood in 200 Years

El Nino Crosses Monstrous Threshold

(Please support public, non special interest based science, like the fantastic research produced by NASA and JMA without which this report would not have been possible.)

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“Worst Fire Conditions On Record” — As Heatwaves, Drought Bake North American West, Wildfires Erupt From California to Alaska

There are 146 wildfires burning in Alaska today. A total that is likely to see at least another dozen blazes added to it by midnight. A total that has already absorbed the entire firefighting capacity of the State and has drawn hundreds of firefighters from across the country in places as far away as Pennsylvania.

For Alaska, it’s a case of record heat and dryness generating fuels for wildfires.

Alaska wildfires Sunday

(MODIS satellite shot of wildfires erupting over a sweltering Southwestern Alaska on Sunday, June 21. Wildfires in permafrost regions of the Arctic like Alaska are particularly concerning as they are one mechanism that returns ancient sequestered carbon to the Earth atmosphere. A sign of a feedback set off by human warming that will worsen with continued fossil fuel emissions. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Deadhorse, at the center of North Slope oil fields above the Arctic Circle set an all time record high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 Celsius) on Sunday. That’s 3 degrees hotter than the previous all time record high of 79 degrees (26 C) set on August 16, 2004. The hottest reading for June at that location was a 68 degree (20 C) measure set in 2007. So, basically, Deadhorse just shattered the all-time record for June by 14 degrees (F) and the globally record hot summer of 2015 has only now gotten started.

Other locations experiencing new records for just Sunday included Kotzebue, which set a new all time record highest low temperature of 62 degrees (17 C). This reading broke the previous all time high minimum mark of 56 degrees (14 C), set in 1987. Bethel and Yakutat both tied their daily high minimum temperature records at 54 and 52 degrees (12 and 11 C), respectively.

And yesterday was just one day in long period of record heat for the State. Last month’s NOAA analysis showed temperatures fully 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 C) above average. It’s a record heating that is now setting off severe wildfires all over Alaska. According to the state’s Wildland Fire Information Center, the relentless heat and dryness has turned spruce, hardwoods, brush, and tundra into dry fuels vulnerable to any ignition source. Over the past week, ignition has come in the form of lightning — with most of Alaska’s 2015 wildfires set off by nature’s spark.

As a result we are seeing nearly double the number of fires during June compared to a typical year. Fires that have already destroyed 30 structures, forced evacuations, and tapped Alaska’s firefighting resources to its limits.

Wildfires Burning in the Rainforests of Washington as Major Heatwave Approaches

Record hot temperatures and wildfires, unfortunately, are not just an issue for Alaska. They’re a prevalent concern all up and down Western North America. A zone that has seen several years of record hot temperatures and dryness. Extreme weather events fueled by such global warming-linked phenomena as a Ridiculously Resilient high pressure Ridge over the Northeast Pacific that has kept heatwave and drought conditions firmly entrenched throughout much of the region for months and years. An atmospheric condition that is also linked to a hot ocean surface water ‘Blob’ in the Northeast Pacific (which is itself implicated in a growing number of marine species deaths).

Paradise-Fire-June-17

(Paradise Fire burning near a drought-shrunken creek in the rainforests of Olympia National Park, Washington. Image source: NPS and Wildfire Today.)

This week, the added heat also generated wildfires in unusual areas like the rainforests of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Driest conditions since 1951 have resulted in a great deal of fire resiliency loss for forests in the region (1951 was the year of the historic Five Forks Fire, one of the worst ever to impact Washington State). Already, a rare early summer wildfire (called the Paradise Fire) has burned through 417 acres of forest.

Firefighters are doing their best to contain the blaze. But the record heat and dryness are multiplying fuel sources. Fires are enabled by dried lichens growing high up in the trees. When flames touch the lichens they rapidly ignite sending sparks to other lichen-covered tree tops. In this way, flames can leap rapidly from tree to tree under current conditions.

It’s very unusual to see fires in this rainforest zone. And when ignitions have occurred in those very rare cases, they have typically flared during late Summer and early Fall. So this June burning has fire officials very concerned — especially given the nearly unprecedented fire hazard conditions throughout the State. Conditions that are predicted to rapidly worsen as an extreme heatwave is expected to build through the coming weekend.

West Coast Heatwave Saturday

(A major heatwave is predicted to invade the US West and Northwest States this weekend. Washington and Oregon are predicted to experience temperatures more typical of desert sections of California and Arizona. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

Temperatures over large stretches of Washington and Oregon are expected to climb into the 90s and 100s, possibly reaching the 110s (Fahrenheit — Celsius range from 33 to 45) by Sunday. For these typically cool, wet States, this brutal heat blow, should it emerge as predicted, will set off a spate of all time record high temperature readings, deepen drought conditions extending northward from California, and heighten fire conditions that are already in the range of worst ever experienced for sections of these States.

California Experiencing “Worst Fire Conditions On Record”

Moving further south along the U.S. West Coast we come at last to the drought hot zone that is California. A State that is now enduring its fourth year of drought. A drought that tree ring studies show is likely the worst such event in 1,000 years.

These harsh climate conditions were starkly highlighted this weekend as reports from State emergency planning officials now indicate that California is currently experiencing its worst fire conditions on record.

Ken Pimlott, Director of CAL FIRE noted:

We measure the fuel moisture content of all of the vegetation -the brush and the trees and we track that over the course of time and compare it month to month each year. And we put it through formulas and determine how much energy and how much heat it will put out when it’s burning. And we have seen -we saw it last year and we will see it again this year- we’ll be reaching records for potential heat output for times of the year that would normally not be burning in those conditions.

Wildfire nonexistent snowpack

(Large wildfire burns in forests along the slopes of Sierra Nevada Mountains whose peaks are now entirely devoid of snow cover. Note that remaining glaciers are shown turning a dull brown in the June 21 MODIS satellite shot.)

So far this year over 1,100 wildfires have already ignited throughout the State. That’s nearly twice the typical number of 650 blazes popping up by this time of year. Exacerbating this stark context is a state water resource crisis compounded by non-existent Sierra Nevada snowpacks and dead trees that now number in the millions.

This is not Normal, Nor Should We View Widespread, Related Events in Isolation

Record and unusual Alaska, Washington, and California wildfires this season are, thus, not occurring in isolation, but as an inseparable feature of ongoing climate trends related to human-caused global warming. In this case, heatwaves are related to visible and extreme record ocean and atmospheric temperatures that have been ramping both globally and in the regions affected over past years and decades. And the fact that 2015 is continuing as the hottest year on record globally should also not be viewed as separate from the events witnessed all up and down the North American West Coast. Events that were largely predicted in many global climate models assessing the impacts of human based greenhouse gas warming on this vital national and global region.

We’ll end here by considering this thought — it’s only June, yet up and down the North American West Coast we are experiencing some of the worst heat, drought, and fire conditions ever recorded. It’s only June…

*   *   *   *

UPDATE NOON EST, JUNE 23, 2015: Satellite Imagery confirms that, over the past 24-48 hours, the wildfire situation in Alaska has continued to worsen. Widespread and large fires running throughout southwestern, central, northeastern and eastern Alaska today expanded and multiplied:

Wildfires Alaska June 22

(Fires flared to dangerous size across Alaska on June 22nd and 23nd. Image source: LANCE-MODIS)

These rapidly proliferating fires cover a diagonal swath stretching about 800 miles from southwest to northeast across the state. The fires are burning through Alaska’s permafrost zone and current intensity in the satellite image is similar to some of the worst Arctic fires we’ve seen during recent years. A substantial number of these fires feature smoke footprints indicating 5-10 mile active burn fronts. Smoke plume size is now large enough to become caught up in the Jet Stream and impact visual features of skies across the Northern Hemisphere.

Based on these satellite shots, it appears that Alaska is experiencing a heightening and very severe fire emergency — one that shows little sign of abatement over the next few days.

Links:

Deadhorse Sets New All-Time Record High Temperature

NOAA Global Analysis May 2015

Alaska’s Wildland Fire Information Center

More Than 100 New Fires Spring Up Across Alaska

PA Firefighters Heading to Alaska to Battle Wildfires

Wildfires Burn in Olympic Rain Forest

Climate Reanalyzer

LANCE-MODIS

California Fire Says 2015 Fire Conditions are Worst on Record

Die-off of Millions of California Trees Centered in Sierra Nevada

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego

Pause? What a Joke. The Reality is Global Temperatures are Skyrocketing.

News out from NASA today — the first five months of 2015 are the hottest ever recorded in the global climate record. Global temperatures hotter than any comparable period by a very significant margin.

According to NASA’s GISS division, May of 2015 came in at 0.71 C hotter than the 20th Century average. That ties 2012 for the second hottest May since record keeping began in 1880. But, more importantly, when averaged — January (+0.75 C), February (+0.82 C), March (+0.84 C), April (+0.71 C) and now May — the first five months of 2015 come in at 0.766 C above 20th Century baselines. That’s about 0.96 C above 1880s values — a level fast approaching the 1 C threshold and the far more dangerous climate impacts that come after.

GISS Temp

(NASA GISS Graph with modification [star] provided to emphasize global warming extremes for first five months of 2015. See also here.)

If 2015 were to remain at such hot levels, the final measure would appear as the star on the above chart. And with the first half of June already seeing +0.7 to +0.85 C warmer than 20th Century conditions amidst a growing El Nino in the Equatorial Pacific, it appears highly possible, even likely, that current atmospheric warming levels could be maintained or even exceeded through end of year.

NOAA Shows Warming Kept Pace or Accelerated — Climate Change Deniers Proven Wrong for the 1 Millionth Time

For reference, +0.76 C is fully 0.15 C hotter than the Super El Nino year of 1998 — the cherry of all cherries for global warming deniers. A fossil fueled group that has used this particular atmospheric and ocean cherry as a basis for arguing that greenhouse gas forced global warming ‘paused’ after the 1998 El Nino. A claim that has also been used as a platform to advance a raft of other nonsense including the false notion that climate sensitivity is far less than consensus ranges of 3 C ECS and 6 C ESS (basically meaning that each doubling of atmospheric CO2 brings 3 C warming short term and 6 C warming over many centuries). A claim that was recently also destroyed in a fantastic paper released earlier this month by NOAA.

From the press release to the June 4 NOAA paper:

A new study published online today in the journal Science finds that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th Century. The study refutes the notion that there has been a slowdown or “hiatus” in the rate of global warming in recent years.

There were numerous related and predictable meltdowns from climate change denial media and political personalities not worth specific notice at this time (AW and BT, I have something for you later this year, but not now.). But the NOAA data is pretty amazingly clear as seen in the chart below which notably does not include the new 2015 records:

no slow down in global warming

(NOAA study finds pace of global warming has kept steady or even accelerated over the past 35 years.)

Ocean Heat Accumulation Accelerating

Of course, any rational observer paying attention to heat accumulation in the top 2000 meters of the world ocean or the ever more rapidly destabilizing glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica already knew that talk of hiatus was probably most likely at best a sick joke. The ocean ends up taking in a far greater portion of the greenhouse gas heat forcing than the atmosphere ever could. As a result, more than 93.4 percent of the heat accumulated by human fossil fuel emissions ends up in the ocean. That’s an enormous amount of heat destined to come back and impact both glaciers and atmosphere even if rates of warming in either of those smaller systems had paused (which NOAA indicates they haven’t).

Ocean heat content

(Global Ocean heat content since 1958 as provided by NOAA NODC showing an extraordinary heat accumulation and a disturbing upward curve at the end of the graph.)

Instead, we see a clearly accelerating rate of ocean warming. A slope that makes one of those sick upward curves we’ve become so used to when dealing with a human-spurred greenhouse gas accumulation at least 6 times faster than at any time in all of Earth’s deep history.

It thus now appears that the atmosphere is in the process of catching up to the ocean. And the strong heat bleed off a ramping El Nino in the Pacific now combines with human greenhouse gasses in the range of 400 ppm CO2 and 480 ppm CO2e to enable this ominous heat increase.

Links:

NASA GISS

NOAA: No Slowdown in Global Warming

The Latest Global Temperature Data are Breaking Records

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