2011 Ninth Warmest Year in 33 Years of Satellite Record

Article ID: 584421

Released: 5-Jan-2012 7:00 AM EST

Source Newsroom: University of Alabama Huntsville

  • Credit: UAHuntsville

  • Credit: UAHuntsville

Global Temperature Report: December 2011

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.13 C per decade

December temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.13 C (about 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.20 C (about 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.06 C (about 0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

Tropics: +0.04 C (about 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

November temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.12 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.08 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.17 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.02 C above 30-year average

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Jan. 4, 2012:

2011 was the ninth warmest year (globally averaged) in the 33-year global satellite record despite La Niña Pacific Ocean cooling events at the start and finish of the year, according to John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Globally averaged, Earth's atmosphere was 0.15 C (0.27 degree Fahrenheit) warmer than the 30-year average in 2011; That was less than half of the warming anomaly seen in 2010.

Average annual globaltemperature anomalies, warmest to coolest1979 – 2011

1998 0.4242010 0.4112005 0.2512002 0.22 2009 0.1872003 0.1852006 0.1752007 0.1682011 0.15 2001 0.112 2004 0.104 1991 0.025 1987 0.018 1995 0.018 1988 0.017 1980 -0.003 1990 -0.017 1981 -0.04 2008 -0.041 1997 -0.044 1999 -0.051 1983 -0.056 2000 -0.056 1996 -0.071 1994 -0.104 1979 -0.165 1989 -0.202 1986 -0.239 1993 -0.24 1982 -0.245 1992 -0.284 1985 -0.304 1984 -0.348

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAHuntsville, NOAA and NASA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data is collected and processed, it is placed in a "public" computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.



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