A taste of 2049

Long time, no see.  Sorry for the lengthy time between entries.  Real life has gotten quite complicated of late.  So, let's hit one major topic that has been in the news of late: The absolutely sizzling start to 2016.  Just how sizzling has it been?  Take a look:

Wow.  That spike at the end of 2015 and into 2016 is so large, I went back to the GISS website just to make sure I had entered the data correctly.  The peak in February 2016 is a full 1.34ºC above the 1951-1980 baseline.  Astounding.

Zooming in to the current warming trend (which I define as since 1970), we get this:

I calculated the trend until the end of 2014, then calculated the standard deviation of the residuals around that trend.  I've added lines denoting +/- 1 standard deviation and +/- 2 standard deviations from the trend. As you can see, we're currently experiencing the most extreme deviation from the trend ever recorded. For example, with a standard deviation of 0.1372, February 2016 was 4.206 standard deviations above the trend.  In contrast, the hottest month of the 1997-1998 El Niño (ironically, February—again—in 1998) was "only" 3.109 standard deviations above the trend.

Looking at just January through March, the first quarter for 2016 was extremely hot, with an average anomaly of 1.25ºC.  That is by far the warmest first quarter start to a calendar year in recorded history.

There are only two good things about the anomalous heat baking the globe. First, it won't last.  There's a little principle in statistics call "reversion to the mean."  El Niño is going to fade into La Niña, the oceans will start absorbing heat from the atmosphere again and temperatures are going to drop.  However, this little taste of 2049 (when the linear trend is currently scheduled to hit 1.34ºC above the baseline) may spur policymakers into action.  Note the "may."  I'm not holding my breath on most of the Republican politicians in the US.

The bad news?  First, deniers will have a new start point to their "It hasn't warmed since _____!" claims.  Second, regardless for how much global temperatures bounce around the trend, the trend itself continues.  With CO2 levels currently above 400 ppmv and rising, that trend will with us for the foreseeable future, as we're currently locked into 1.54ºC of total warming, with more to come unless drastic action is taken.


  1. So sizzling you got a heatstroke before you could place a picture of current global temperatures?

  2. Oops. This wasn't supposed to be published as I haven't finished it. Oh, well, guess you'll get to see how I put it together as I go.


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