The National Climatic Data Center has tentatively announced that 2010 is, get this, “tied” for warmest on record. Presumably they mean it’s tied to the precision that they quote (1.12 F above the 20th-century average). The uncertainty in the measurements, as well as some fuzziness about exactly what is being measured (how much of the atmosphere, and the oceans) makes these global-average things really suspect. For instance, if there’s more oceanic turnover one year, that can warm the deep ocean but cool the shallow ocean and atmosphere, so even though the heat content of the atmosphere-ocean system goes up, some of these “global-average” estimates can go down. The reverse can happen too. And of course there are various sources of natural variability that are not, these days, what most people are most interested in. So everybody who knows about the climate professes to hate the emphasis on climate records. And yet, they’re irresistible. I’m sure we’ll see the usual clamor of some people touting this, while other people claim it’s due to biased measurements, or that it’s true but has nothing to do with anthropogenic carbon dioxide, or whatever. Sigh.
Also noteworthy is how incredibly poor the National Climatic Data Center website is. Fuzzy graphic and logos, jarring colors…looks like it was designed in about 1998..and clicking on “What’s New” does not find the press release that they just issued today, about 2010 being tied for warmest year on record. Perhaps they should hire a 12-year-old to spend an hour making at least a better front page.