I. State of the Climate report
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released their “State of the Climate Report” for 2009. The report has chapters discussing global climate (temperatures, water vapor, cloudiness, alpine glaciers,…); oceans (ocean heat content, sea level, sea surface temperatures, etc.); the arctic (sea ice extent, permafrost, vegetation, and so on); Antarctica (weather observations, sea ice extent,…), and regional climates.
NOAA also provides a nice page that lets you display any of 11 relevant time-series datasets (land-surface air temperature, sea level, ocean heat content, September arctic sea-ice extent, sea-surface temperature, northern hemisphere snow cover, specific humidity, glacier mass balance, marine air temperature, tropospheric temperature, and stratospheric temperature). Each of the plots overlays data from several databases (not necessarily indepenedent of each other), and you can select which ones to include or leave out.
News flash: the earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming rapidly.
By the way, note that one of the temperature series — Stratospheric (high-altitude) temperature — is declining rather than increasing. That’s to be expected since the stratosphere is getting less heat from below than it used to: more of the heat coming from the earth is absorbed by the CO2 in the lower atmosphere.
II. 35th Anniversary of a major global warming prediction
Another recent news item is the “celebration” of the 35th anniversary of the very brief article, in the journal Science, “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of Pronounced Global Warming”, by Wallace Broecker. When the paper was published (1975) the global mean temperature was only about 0.2 C higher than it had been in 1900, and the trend was downward rather than upward. Broeker correctly predicted that the downward trend would end soon, and that the ensuing warming would “by the year 2000 bring average global temperatures beyond the range experienced in the last 1000 years.” He got that right, or at least, the highly uncertain temperature data from 1000 years ago are consistent with Broeker having gotten that right. If he was wrong, it was only by a decade or so.
III. Not really news, but since we’re here…
Speaking of global temperatures 1000 years ago, one thing anthropogenic climate change skeptics like to point out is that wine was produced in England in the year 1000, and the Norse on Greenland were able to graze cattle and produce crops. True! It’s also true that you can visit vineyards in England today, and if you’re in Greenland, don’t forget to try the local mutton or beef.
IV. No climate bill again this year
Meanwhile, Congress has dropped efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.