Tag Archives: climate change

How hot was April 2020?

For those of us living in the northeast or a good part of the U.S. we might have felt that April was cold and it was. It is easy to use that as evidence that climate change is “fake news” yet it is good to keep in mind that if it is cold where you are it is likely much warmer somewhere else. The map here is from NASA’s GISS Surface Temperature Analysis page where similar maps can be made for a variety of time periods.  Here we can see that for April 2020 parts of the U.S. and Canada where one of the  few cold spots in the world. The rest of the planet was warmer.

NOAA’s Global Climate Report – April 2020 notes:

Averaged as a whole, the global land and ocean surface temperature for April 2020 was 1.06°C (1.91°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F) and the second highest April temperature in the 141-year record. Only April 2016 was warmer at +1.13°C (+2.03°F). The eight warmest Aprils have occurred since 2010. April 2016 and 2020 were the only Aprils that had a global land and ocean surface temperature departure above 1.0°C (1.8°F).

Time series data is available on the NOAA page. Note that NASA uses 1951-1980 as their baseline while NOAA is using the 20th century. This accounts for the slight differences in their calculations on April’s anomaly from the baseline.

How hot was March 2020?

From the NOAA Global Climate Report – March 2020:

Averaged as a whole, the global land and ocean surface temperature for March 2020 was 1.16°C (2.09°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F) and the second highest in the 141-year record. Only March 2016 was warmer at 1.31°C (2.36°F). The 10 warmest Marches have all occurred since 1990, with Marches of 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020 having a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average above 1.0°C (1.8°F). The March 2020 global land and ocean surface temperature departure tied with February 2020 and December 2015 as the third highest monthly temperature departure from average in the 1,683-month record. Only February and March 2016, when a strong El Niño was present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, had higher temperature departures.

Data for the graph here.

A heatwave where?

From the article The 2019/2020 summer of Antarctic heatwave by Sharon A. Robinson et. e. (3/30/2020) in Global Change Biology:

Heatwaves are rarely reported in Antarctica, but elsewhere are often classified as three consecutive days with both extreme maximum and minimum temperatures. Using this classification, Casey experienced a heatwave between 23 and 26 January with minimum temperatures above zero and maximum temperatures above 7.5°C. Casey also recorded its highest maximum temperature ever (9.2°C) on 24 January followed by its highest minimum (2.5°C) the following morning.


In the past, much of East Antarctica has been spared from rapid climate warming due in part to ozone depletion, which cools surface temperatures slightly and enhances the strength of the westerly wind jets which shield Antarctica from more northerly warming air (Bornman et al., 2019; Robinson & Erickson, 2015).


 In late 2019, stratospheric warming led to an early breakup of the ozone hole (Lewis, 2019) and Antarctic temperature records started to break (Figure 1a). In what we believe is a first, we report a heatwave event at Casey Station, East Antarctica (Figure 1b) in January, to add to the record high temperatures reported for Antarctica in February.


Although it is too early for full reports, this warm summer will have impacted Antarctic biology in numerous ways, probably leading to long‐term disruptions at ecosystem, community and population scales.


How hot was February 2020?

From NOAA’s Global Climate Report  – February 2020:

Averaged as a whole, February 2020 was near-record warm with a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average of 1.17°C (2.11°F) above the 20th century average. Only February 2016 was warmer.

The February 2020 temperature departure from average was also the third highest monthly temperature departure from average for any month in the 1,682-month record. Only March 2016 (+1.31°C / +2.36°F) and February 2016 (+1.26°C / +2.27°F) had a higher temperature departure.

This means that the February 2020 global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average was the highest monthly temperature departure without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, surpassing the previous record set only last month (January 2020).

The data is available for the graph copied here. Click on Temperature Anomalies Time Series for February.


How is spring changing?

Climate Central has put together their 2020 Spring Package (2/2/2020) with information and a selection of city graphs. For example

Analyzing average spring temperatures since 1970, the top increases occurred in the Southwestwhere spring is the fastest warming season. Reno, Nev. topped the list with an increase of 7.2°F, followed by Las Vegas, Nev. (6.4°F), El Paso, Texas (5.8°F), and Tucson (5.8°F). In general, 81% (197) of the 242 cities analyzed warmed by at least 1°F over the past fifty years. 

There are four different graph selections for spring: Average Temperature, Days Above Normal, Last Freeze, and a National Map. For the first three you can select from various cities. For example, I chose the graph for last freeze for Duluth, MN, which shows that on average the last freeze is occurring almost two weeks sooner.

The graphs are set up for easy download but there isn’t corresponding data. A previous post How much have fall nighttime temperatures risen? provides details on how to obtain this type of data.

Isn’t the sun causing global warming?

No, as can be easily seen by the graphic here copied from the NASA article There is No Impending ‘Mini Ice Age’ (2/13/2020). At the same time we won’t be seeing an ice age anytime soon:

This is called a “Grand Solar Minimum,” and the last time this happened, it coincided with a period called the “Little Ice Age” (a period of extremely low solar activity from approximately AD 1650 to 1715 in the Northern Hemisphere, when a combination of cooling from volcanic aerosols and low solar activity produced lower surface temperatures).

Even if a Grand Solar Minimum were to last a century, global temperatures would continue to warm. Because more factors than just variations in the Sun’s output change global temperatures on Earth, the most dominant of those today being the warming coming from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

The article has another time series of solar irradiance with a source.

How hot was 2019?

From the NOAA Global Climate Report – Annual 2019:

The year 2019 was the second warmest year in the 140-year record, with a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average of +0.95°C (+1.71°F). This value is only 0.04°C (0.07°F) less than the record high value of +0.99°C (+1.78°F) set in 2016 and 0.02°C (0.04°F) higher than the now third highest value set in 2015 (+0.93°C / +1.67°F). The five warmest years in the 1880–2019 record have all occurred since 2015, …

The report contains summaries by region and has abundance of quantitative information such as:

North America was the only continent that did not have an annual temperature that ranked among its three highest on record. Overall, North America’s temperature was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 1910–2000 average, marking the 14th warmest year in the 110-year continental record. The yearly temperature for North America has increased at an average rate of 0.13°C (0.23°F) per decade since 1910; however, the average rate of increase is more than twice as great (+0.29°C / +0.52°F per decade) since 1981.

The graphic here is from NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal 2019 Second Warmest Year on Record (1/15/2020). Time series data can be obtained from Climate at a Glance Global Time Series.


Looking for Climate Curriculum Materials?

If you are looking for teaching tools or lessons plans related to climate change then check out TROP ICSU.

The TROP ICSU project collects and curates educational resources for teachers and self-learners to learn about Climate Change. The quality of life of future generations is largely dependent on the quality of education that we impart to today’s students.

The goal is not to introduce Climate Education as a stand-alone topic, but to integrate it with the core curriculum of Science, Mathematics, and Social Sciences.

The photo here is a snapshot of their lesson plans page.

How much does Greenland melting contribute to sea level rise?

From NASA’s Greenland’s Rapid Melt Will Mean More Flooging (12/10/2019):

Increasing rates of global warming have accelerated Greenland’s ice mass loss from 25 billion tons per year in the 1990s to a current average of 234 billion tons per year. This means that Greenland’s ice is melting on average seven times faster today than it was at the beginning of the study period. The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise the sea level by 24 feet (7.4 meters).

The graph here is a frame from a short video on the page that is worth watching.  The data for this graph does not seem to be easily available, but data on the melting of Greenland is available at NASA’s Vital Sings Ice Sheets page.

How much has sea level risen?

The Climate.gov post Climate Change: Global Sea Level by Rebecca Lindsey (11/19/2019) notes:

Global mean sea level has risen about 8–9 inches (21–24 centimeters) since 1880, with about a third of that coming in just the last two and a half decades. The rising water level is mostly due to a combination of meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms. In 2018, global mean sea level was 3.2 inches (8.1 centimeters) above the 1993 average—the highest annual average in the satellite record (1993-present)

There are other graphs and information in the post. For example, What’s causing sea level to rise?

Global warming is causing global mean sea level to rise in two ways. First, glaciers and ice sheets worldwide are melting and adding water to the ocean. Second, the volume of the ocean is expanding as the water warms. A third, much smaller contributor to sea level rise is a decline in the amount of liquid water on land—aquifers, lakes and reservoirs, rivers, soil moisture. This shift of liquid water from land to ocean is largely due to groundwater pumping.

There are links to data at the end of the post and NOAA also has sea level data that is accessible.