Global Temperature and Europe’s Frigid Air

2010-12-11 NASA GISS

Surface Temperature Anomaly

Figure 1: (a) January-November surface air temperature anomaly in GISS analysis, (b) November 2010 anomaly using only data from meteorological stations and Antarctic research stations, with the radius of influence of a station limited to 250 km to better reveal maximum anomalies

This is the warmest January-November in the GISS analysis, which covers 131 years. However, it is only a few hundredths of a degree warmer than 2005, so it is possible that the final GISS results for the full year will find 2010 and 2005 to have the same temperature within the margin of error.

As described in a paper just published in Reviews of Geophysics (see summary PDF) that defines the GISS analysis method, we estimate a two-standard-deviation uncertainty (95 percent confidence interval) of 0.05°C for comparison of global temperatures in nearby recent years. The magnitude of this uncertainty and the small temperature differences among different years is one reason that alternative analyses yield different rankings for the warmest years. However, results for overall global temperature change of the past century are in good agreement among the alternative analyses (by NASA/GISS, NOAA National Climate Data Center, and the joint analysis of the UK Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit).

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One Response to Global Temperature and Europe’s Frigid Air

  1. rmcpiper says:


    A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents

    The recent overall Northern Hemisphere warming was accompanied by several severe northern continental winters, as for example, extremely cold winter 2005–2006 in Europe and northern Asia. Here we show that anomalous decrease of wintertime sea ice concentration in the Barents-Kara (B-K) seas could bring about extreme cold events like winter 2005–2006. Our simulations with the ECHAM5 general circulation model demonstrate that lower-troposphere heating over the B-K seas in the Eastern Arctic caused by the sea ice reduction may result in strong anticyclonic anomaly over the Polar Ocean and anomalous easterly advection over northern continents. This causes a continental-scale winter cooling reaching −1.5°C, with more than 3 times increased probability of cold winter extremes over large areas including Europe. Our results imply that several recent severe winters do not conflict the global warming picture but rather supplement it, being in qualitative agreement with the simulated large-scale atmospheric circulation realignment. Furthermore, our results suggest that high-latitude atmospheric circulation response to the B-K sea ice decrease is highly nonlinear and characterized by transition from anomalous cyclonic circulation to anticyclonic one and then back again to cyclonic type of circulation as the B-K sea ice concentration gradually reduces from 100% to ice free conditions. We present a conceptual model that may explain the nonlinear local atmospheric response in the B-K seas region by counter play between convection over the surface heat source and baroclinic effect due to modified temperature gradients in the vicinity of the heating area.

    Citation: Petoukhov, V., and V. A. Semenov (2010), A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D21111, doi:10.1029/2009JD013568.

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