Hot weather has been much in the news of late. This is especially true in the United States where there have been some real scorchers in the past month. Needless to say that when the temperature is high, so is the news about global warming. I will be the first to admit that there has been less of it than I expected, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been an avalanche of news about how this summer is what global warming looks like.
Previous studies have shown that people are more prone to news about global warming when the temperature is elevated. It is easy to see how what people are experiencing influences their behavior, by simply going to Google Trends. It is easy to see the frequency of searches and how strongly they correlate to the summer months in the United States.
So the real question is, how hot is 2012 in comparison. I will admit that I am bored with the whole temperature anomaly issue. It is really an argument about a variation that is so tiny and insignificant that it is a waste of time, but it is what people talk about, so I will continue to do so when it is needed.
In the last article someone noted one of the more common news themes is that 2012 had the 2nd warmest May in history (in this case history is ~120 years) and the United States experienced it’s warmest March-May ever in that same period of time. What is clear is that there has been nothing abnormal for the first half of 2012 for the global temperature.
The data speaks for itself. For the RSS data the first half of 2012 is the 12th warmest year, since 1979. For the UAH 2012 is the 9th warmest half of a year since 1979. Those are not significant rankings in warmth. However it does appear that the ENSO phase is going to switch to the warm phase so the later part of 2012 is likely to be warm, but really the warm weather this year has been local to the United States.
The analysis for the United States is quite different. Much like Russia experienced a significant heat wave a couple of years ago that was a localized weather event, the United States is experiencing something like that this year. There is a significant difference between local and global events and this years temperature is a good example of this.
In this case it is clear that the United States is experiencing an abnormally warm year. Few would argue otherwise, but the story is difference globally. It is interesting that it was two years after the powerful El Nino that the US experienced is other very warm year and once again it is two years after a powerful El Nino that it is once again very warm. The oceans drive local weather and how the switching of the ENSO influences weather is complicated.
What is interesting is that the NOAA May report that is being used to say how warm the Earth is globally acknowledges that it was only the United States that was experiencing abnormally warm conditions while Australia was experiencing colder than average weather. That is how weather works.
Somehow I suspect the talk about global warming is less enthusiastic down under at the moment. The data simply does not support that statement that the Earth has been any different this year than it has in any of the past 15 years. Local events don’t cut it and that is all that is going on in 2012.
Finally the warmest May according to the satellite data is 1998 when May logged a 0.66 °C anomaly. May of this year was 0.3 °C.