Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Record Breaking Heat Suggests Accelerated Warming

We are experiencing record breaking heat in 2014 and it may be the beginning of an accelerated global warming trend. We have witnessed record breaking temperatures both in September and in the last six months. According to a recently released NASA report, last month was the warmest September ever documented and the last six months were collectively the warmest middle half of the year ever recorded.

The record breaking heat started in the month of April, a month which the National Climatic Data Center, ranked as the warmest April on record. This was also the first month in at least 800,000 years that atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million. April was followed by the warmest May and June on record. The month of July was the fourth warmest on record and this was followed by the warmest August ever recorded. The period from January through September is the third warmest on record.

Current levels of warming are unprecedented since the dawn of human civilization (at least 4,000 years). The only reason we are not experiencing even more warming is due to the fact that the oceans have absorbed much of the heat. However, the oceans may not be able to absorb much more heat and this will accelerate land based warming.

Some areas are warmer than others. In the US, the West is particularly warm and for the second month in a row, Western portions of Antarctica recorded anomalous warming  (4°C to 8.7°C or 7°F to over 15°F). Despite recent increases in the Antarctic ice sheet, researchers have shown that glaciers in the Western Antarctic are on an irreversible trajectory that will ultimately see them collapse. The massive volumes of melting ice will inundate coastal cities all around the world. 

Together this data suggests that the pace of atmospheric warming now be accelerating. According to NOAA predictions 2014 may end up being the hottest year ever recorded and this trend may very well stretch into 2015.

Related
Interactive Map - Summer Heat in the US
June's Record Breaking Heat and the Global Warming Trend
Freak Weather: Alaska is Warmer than Alabama
James Hansen's 2012 Research Linking Global Warming and Extreme Weather
In the US 2012 is The Hottest Most Extreme Year in Recorded History
Globally 2012 is One of the Hottest Years on Record

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