Global Land And Sea Temperatures: November, 2014

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November 2014 temperature map

This image illustrates the departure from average land and sea temperatures for November, 2014. Analysis courtesy of NOAA.

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, November land and sea temperatures failed to make a record for the month, thanks to very cold weather in North America.

Nevertheless, 2014 is the warmest year to date, and the full year is a prohibitive favorite to become the warmest calendar year since record-keeping began in 1880.

Sea Surface Warmer Than Ever, But North American Deep Freeze Drags Down Total

Highlights of global temperatures for November for land, sea, and a combination of the two, are as follows:

  • November’s combined land and sea temperatures were the seventh highest.
  • November’s land temperatures were the 13th highest.
  • Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were the warmest for any November recorded, and the departure from normal was the greatest for any month.

November, 2014 continued the recent trend, which features new record SSTs each month, with warmer-than-normal, but not record, land temperatures. The combination continues to set new highs over time frames of three to twelve months.

November’s land temperatures were affected by the extreme cold over the United States. It was the 16th coldest November in the contiguous US since 1895. The average temperature was 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit below average.

Some Places Were Hotter Than Others

Even though land temperatures were only modestly higher than normal, some places set new records:

  • Australia’s high temperatures averaged 3.94 degrees Fahrenheit above the average. This was the second consecutive record-breaking month for Australia.
  • Austria’s high temperatures averaged an astounding 6.8 degrees above normal for the month.
  • Switzerland had its warmest November.

Honorable mention:

  • England’s November temperature was the fifth warmest ever.
Global temperature anomalies 2014

This graphic illustrates global temperature anomalies for September to November, 2014. Analysis courtesy of NOAA.

Warmest Fall On Record For Combined Land And Sea Temperature

For the fall period of September through November, global combined land and sea temperatures were 1.26 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average — a new high. The land surface temperature was 13th highest, and the ocean temperature was a new record high.

Warming Oceans And Their Effect On Sea Level

November was the seventh consecutive month with record high SSTs, surpassing November of the El Niño year of 1997. With El Niño expected in the tropical Pacific this winter, the trend of record high SSTs is very likely to continue.

Rising sea levels are a result of melting ice in the polar regions and the decreasing density of warmer ocean water. New research indicates that each is responsible for about half of sea level’s recent rise.

So even if land temperatures were to stop rising (not likely) and sea ice extent to stop shrinking, the oceans would continue to rise as the water warms.

Year To Date Is The Warmest Ever And Calendar Year 2014 Will Set A New Record

The January to November 2014 period was the warmest ever recorded, with a combined land and sea temperature of 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above average. December need only be 0.76 degrees above average in order for the whole year to break the record. Anyone betting against this probably picked Oakland to win the Super Bowl this year.

November Precipitation: Record Snow Cover In The United States

Precipitation as a percent of normal for November. Graphic courtesy of NOAA.

Precipitation as a percent of normal for November. Graphic courtesy of NOAA.

The November percent-of-normal precipitation map shows large precipitation anomalies in the United States and southern Europe.

The high precipitation combined with the cold weather to give the US its largest extent of snow cover for any November. In Canada, the snow cover was second only to November, 2013.

Global-warming-deniers point to anomalies such as this to support their case, but in fact these data are consistent with global warming. Numerical models predict that the increasing temperatures will be accompanied by more extreme weather — warm and cold, wet and dry.

The Sea Ice Conundrum: Arctic Ice Extent Down; Antarctic Up

The trend of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic continues — November sea ice extent was 5% below normal. However, a trend to more sea ice in the Antarctic seems puzzling — up 2% from the average. The lack of a sufficient theoretical explanation for this trend shows that there is still a lot to learn about climate change.

Far from being comforting, the ice cover trend in Antarctica is disconcerting:

  • It shows that the effects of climate change are not felt uniformly. Some places may experience much greater deviations from normal than the average deviation around the globe.
  • Some results of global warming may be unpredictable and therefore more disruptive than gradual, predictable changes in temperature and precipitation.

The Future Of The Climate

November is an anticlimactic month for global temperatures. The December data will surely show that 2014 was the hottest calendar year on planet earth since civilization began to emit greenhouse gases. Possibly politicians will focus on these data as they prepare to meet in Paris next year to try to find a way to stop the earth from warming. The results of the recent meeting in Peru were not comforting, as they produced much haggling over meaningless details and little progress of substance.

The Weather Is Changing Before Our Eyes

Climate Change is here, and as the cold and snowy November in the US and the increasing sea ice in Antarctica show, the unexpected may become the norm.

What changes do you see in your corner of the world?

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