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October 2010 Ranks 8th Warmest, NOAA Reports

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just released their latest global temperature anomaly rankings, and October 2010 ranked eighth warmest since instrumental records began in 1880. So far, 2010 is tied with the same period (January to October) in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperature on record. As for the land surface alone, January to October 2010 was the second warmest, behind 2007. The global ocean surface temperature anomaly tied with 2003 as the second warmest on record behind 1998.

As expected, La Niña — which is a natural climate phenomenon characterized by an area of cooler-than-average water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean — is really showing off its ability to cool things down. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is expected to strengthen and last at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring of 2011. As a result, global average temperatures are expected to show continued cooling as we finish out the year — much like we saw in 1998.

Here’s the “horserace” plot that compares 2010 with previous years. Note how 2010 had been on a course to likely set a new record for the warmest year until La Niña-related cooling set in.

Year-to-date global temperature departures from average (in degrees C), compared to 20th Century average. Credit: Deke Arndt/National Climatic Data Center.

Check out our latest ClimateCenter video for more details on how La Niña could impact the ski season.



Some other highlights:

  • Average Arctic sea ice extent for October was 2.97 million square miles, about 17 percent below average. October 2010 marks the third lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979 and the 14th consecutive October with below average Arctic sea ice extent.
  • According to Mexico’s National Weather Service, October 2010 was Mexico’s driest since 1941.
  • North and western Amazonia in Brazil has been in the midst of its worst drought in the past 40 years. In October, the Black River, one of the Amazon River’s most important tributaries, dropped to its lowest level of 44.7 feet since records began in 1902.

Finally, check out this interview with Stu Ostro (my former boss at The Weather Channel) about why communicators of weather and climate information need to help give better climate context to extreme weather events.


Spring Snow Cover While this has been a snowy winter, the past 50 years have shown a trend of less spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

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