It Keeps Going Up!

I had stopped doing these kinds of posts since they were pretty much getting predictable. But–we all have to be reminded of these things every so often. So the headline is, 2015 Is Crushing It For Hottest Year On Record. Or do you like this one better? You Just Lived Through The Earth’s Hottest January-April Since We Started Keeping Records.

Global temperatures in April vs. 1951-1980 average. Via NASA.

Last week NASA reported that this has been the Earth’s hottest January-April on record. This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that finding with its latest monthly report on global temperatures.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just predicted a 90 percent chance that the El Niño it declared in March will last through the summer and “a greater than 80 percent chance it will last through 2015.” El Niños generally lead to global temperature records, as the short-term El Niño warming adds to the underlying long-term global warming trend.

That last paragraph is a good news/bad news thing. The bad news is that it will lead to higher temperatures. The good news is that an El Niño will usually, but not always, bring rain to California. In some cases too much.

1982-83 El Niño Storms

Multiple strong storms brought high wind, heavy rain, and heavy snowfall across all of California. This led to direct wind damage, higher tides, immediate flooding to coastal and valley locations, mudslides in coastal mountain areas, record snowfall in the Sierra Mountains, and resulting spring snowmelt river flooding. In one 36-hour period, 25 inches of rain fell in the Santa Cruz (coastal) mountains while 8.5 feet of snow fell in the Lake Tahoe region. Forty-six counties were disaster-declared.

– Long-term Strategic Impact: Lessons learned from this El Niño event were used to lessen the impact of the next El Niño event in 1997-98, including enhanced coordination of reservoir releases.

– Calculated Damages: 36 dead, 481 injured, $1.209 billion economic losses including 6,661 homes and 1,330 businesses damaged or destroyed.

The anticipated El Niño is a little unusual.

El Niño usually develops over the southern autumn-winter, peaks around Christmas, and decays in the southern autumn.

So this event is unusual, as an El Niño would generally be decaying by this time of the year—but observations over recent weeks show otherwise. Sea surface temperatures in the El Niño core region (eastern equatorial Pacific) are actually still warming and the pattern is now looking more like a classic El Niño.

Separately, NOAA released its monthly report on “Global Ocean Heat.” It makes clear that the ocean’s heat content down to 2000 meters (1.24 miles) has been soaring this century — and nearly gone off the charts this year…

There is another disturbing record that was set in March. We hit the 400ppm level for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the whole planet.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 400.83 parts per million (ppm) was the average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide in March. This news from NOAA marks the first time that the entire planet has surpassed the 400 ppm benchmark for an entire month.

With the rate of growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations steadily increasing — rising from about 0.75 ppm per year in 1959 to about 2.25 ppm per year in 2015 — this milestone will soon be surpassed. Still, the 400 ppm average has been a long time coming.

“It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement. “Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone.”

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” he continued. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”

The world famous Keeling Curve has the carbon dioxide level at 403.51ppm. It actually started the year right at the 400ppm level. Will this be the year that it will stay over that level?



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