Global average temperatures over land have plummeted by more than 1C in less than 6 months
Global average temperatures over land have plummeted by more than 1C since the middle of this year – their biggest and steepest fall on record.
The news comes amid mounting evidence that the recent run of world record high temperatures is about to end.
The fall, revealed by Nasa satellite measurements of the lower atmosphere, has been caused by the end of El Nino – the warming of surface waters in a vast area of the Pacific west of Central America.
Some scientists, including Dr Gavin Schmidt, head of Nasa’s climate division, have claimed that the recent highs were mainly the result of long-term global warming.
Others have argued that the records were caused by El Nino, a complex natural phenomenon that takes place every few years, and has nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions by humans.
The new fall in temperatures suggests they were right.
Big El Ninos always have an immense impact on world weather, triggering higher than normal temperatures over huge swathes of the world. The 2015-16 El Nino was probably the strongest since accurate measurements began, with the water up to 3C warmer than usual.
It has now been replaced by a La Nina event – when the water in the same Pacific region turns colder than normal.
This also has worldwide impacts, driving temperatures down rather than up.
The satellite measurements over land respond quickly to El Nino and La Nina. Temperatures over the sea are also falling, but not as fast, because the sea retains heat for longer.
This means it is possible that by some yardsticks, 2016 will be declared as hot as 2015 or even slightly hotter – because El Nino did not vanish until the middle of the year.
But it is almost certain that next year, large falls will also be measured over the oceans, and by weather station thermometers on the surface of the planet – exactly as happened after the end of the last very strong El Nino in 1998. If so, some experts will be forced to eat their words.
Last year, Dr Schmidt said 2015 would have been a record hot year even without El Nino.
‘The reason why this is such a warm record year is because of the long-term underlying trend, the cumulative effect of the long-term warming trend of our Earth,’ he said. This was ‘mainly caused’ by the emission of greenhouse gases by humans.
Dr Schmidt also denied that there was any ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming between the 1998 and 2015 El Ninos.
But on its website home page yesterday, Nasa featured a new study which said there was a hiatus in global warming before the recent El Nino, and discussed why this was so. Last night Dr Schmidt had not returned a request for comment.
Pope Francis urged national leaders on Monday to implement global environmental agreements without delay, a message that looked to be squarely aimed at U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
Addressing a group of scientists that included theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, the pope gave his strongest speech on the environment since the election of Trump, who has threatened to pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
“The ‘distraction’ or delay in implementing global agreements on the environment shows that politics has become submissive to a technology and economy which seek profit above all else,” Francis said.
Francis, who wrote an encyclical, or papal letter, on the environment last year, took a swipe at those who dispute that climate change is caused by human activity, criticising “the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded.”
im guessing you wont have seen this on free to air tv..
“This means it is possible that by some yardsticks, 2016 will be declared as hot as 2015 or even slightly hotter – because El Nino did not vanish until the middle of the year.”
el nino will bring extreme heat at the end of its cycle..thats what it does..its natural..but nobody wanted to tell you that as temps went up..it fitted the meme perfectly..now as it turns to a la nina they are falling over themselves to tell you its only from la nina..
“But it is almost certain that next year, large falls will also be measured over the oceans, and by weather station thermometers on the surface of the planet – exactly as happened after the end of the last very strong El Nino in 1998. If so, some experts will be forced to eat their words.”