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How Hot Was Summer 2010?

September 30, 2010

Summer of 2010 has experienced some extremely severe temperatures and drought like conditions especially in Eastern Europe, Russia and in some parts of Eastern USA. So how hot was summer of 2010? Was it the hottest summer globally or hot summers of Russia were more of local anomalies? NASA GISS has come up with analysis of measured temperature during Jun-Aug 2010 and can be seen in the above plot. The plot shows temperature anomalies as compared to base average temperature during 1951-1980. From the plot, its clearly seen that two region in the globe experienced severe hot summers namely Eurasia region and Antarctic Peninsula. So how were these temperature anomalies as compared to last year, lets have a look:

As can be seen from the 2009 temperatures, severe temperature anomalies like summers of Russia were not there in 2009. But what does that mean in terms of Global temperature trend, which was hotter: summer of 2009 or 2010?

Globally, 2010 was the 4th warmest summer in GISS’s 131-year-temperature record. The summer of 2009 was the 2nd warmest. The slightly cooler 2010 temperatures were primarily the result of a moderate La Niña replacing a moderate El Niño in the Pacific Ocean. Note in 2010 that much of the eastern Pacific, the west coasts of North and South America, and much of Antarctica were cooler than the long-term mean. Temperatures were extremely warm in western Russia and the Antarctic Peninsula. The unusually warm summer temperatures in the U.S. and Eurasia created the impression of global warming run amuck; last winter’s unusually cool temperatures created the opposite impression. But extrapolating global trends based on one or two regions can be misleading.

“Unfortunately, it is common for the public to take their most recent local temperature anomaly as indicative of long-term climate trends, ” James Hansen from NASA GISS noted. “People need to understand that the temperature anomaly in one place in one season has limited relevance to global trends. ” [NASA ESO]

So what it implies is that summer of 2010 was hot but it’s severity was dependent on where you lived. It also means that local temperature anomaly has limited relevance to global temperature trends. But that doesn’t  imply that extreme local temperature absurdities have nothing to do with global temperature trends but before jumping to any conclusions one has to look into long term statistics and trends. If we take a look at average data of past 10 years or so, we might see ups and downs in temperatures but in a long run there is a clear trend of temperature rise.

Data and Analysis credit: NASA ESO | GISS

Filed under: Environment,Research

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