Environmental news from California and beyond

« Previous Post | Greenspace Home | Next Post »

And the planet got warmer, too

June 15, 2010 |  1:03 pm

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, already busy with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, took time out Tuesday to announce that the combined average land and ocean surface temperature on Earth was the hottest on record for May, the hottest on record for a March-May period, and for that matter, the hottest for a January-May period.

Factoring out the oceans doesn't help much: the worldwide average land surface temperature was the hottest on record for May, and March-May. The worldwide average ocean surface temperatures for those periods placed second to 1998's data.

The average combined land and ocean temperature for May was 1.24 degrees above the average for the 20th century, NOAA reported.

NOAA also reported:

The warmest temperature anomalies occurred in eastern North America, eastern Brazil, Eastern Europe, southern Asia, eastern Russia and equatorial Africa. The Chinese province of Yunnan had its warmest May since 1951. Numerous locations in Ontario, Canada, had their warmest May on record.

Anomalously cool conditions were present across western North America, northern Argentina, interior Asia and Western Europe. Germany had its coolest May since 1991 and its 12th-coolest May on record.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that average land surface temperatures had increased by about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the 20th century, primarily because of human activities such as burning fossil fuels, and that climate models indicate it could be expected to rise 2 to 11.5 degrees in the 21st century.

The IPCC concluded:

Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years. The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture.

-- Geoff Mohan