The average global land temperature is likely to be the highest ever recorded, the Japan Meteorological Agency said in a preliminary report today, according to China's state-run media. Average global temperature, accounting also for oceans, is likely to rank sixth.
Part of the reason is the familiar creep of warmth caused by heat-trapping gases we're pumping into the atmosphere. And part is due natural fluctuations. And, part is due to some consequence of both: the record-warm Arctic summer.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported today, new evidence presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union added more detail to our understanding of the over-hot state of the Arctic, which is influenced by global warming, positive feedback loops and vagaries of weather.
We already knew that Arctic sea ice receded to record-low levels this summer, and that it has yet to recover to normal winter levels, even after record-fast re-freezing in late October and early November. We knew that Greenland has experienced unusually long periods of melting at high altitudes. And we knew that even the Arctic sea ice that remained, had thinned to such an extent that re-formation might be less likely.
The evidence presented at the meeting mostly added detail (Greenland has warmed about 7 degrees in 15 years; the Arctic sea water was 6 degrees warmer than average, and 3 degrees higher than the historical maximum, and part actually reached 9 degrees warmer than average). The picture remains the same.
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