If the media headlines are to be believed 2010 is heading to be either the warmest or in the top three warmest years since the instrumental global temperature records began 150 years ago, and proof that the world is getting ever warmer. But looking more closely at the data reveals a different picture.
2010 will be remembered for just two warm months, attributable to the El Nino effect, with the rest of the year being nothing but average, or less than average temperature.
With November and December¹s data still to come in (that will account for 16% of the year¹s data) the UK Met Office estimates the temperature anomaly (with respect to the end of the 19th century) for 2010 so far as 0.756 deg C. As it has been cooling for the past 4 months we can expect that figure to decline below the 2005 0.747 deg C level and the El Nino influenced 1998 of 0.820 deg C.
2010 will therefore be no higher than the third warmest year, possibly lower.
What has made 2010 warm is March and June due to El Nino, a short-term natural effect and nothing to do with anthropogenic global warming.
- January was cooler than January in 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 1998.
- February was cooler than February in 2007, 2004, 2002, and 1998.
- March was exceptionally warm at a temperature anomaly of 0.971. However it was, given the errors, statistically comparable with March 2008 (0.907) and March 1990 (0.910).
- April was cooler than April 2007, 2005, and 1998.
- May was cooler than May 2003 and 1998.
- June was exceptionally warm at 0.827 deg C though statistically identical to June 2005 (0.825) and 1998.
- July, when things started to cool, was cooler than July 2006, 2005 and 1998.
- August was cooler than August 2009, about the same as 2005, and cooler than 2001 and 1998.
- September was cooler than September 2009, 2007, 2005, 2001 and 1998.
- October the last month for which there are records was cooler than October 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 1998.
The pattern is therefore of an unexceptional year except for a Spring/early summer El Nino that elevated temperatures.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the lack of warming seen in the global average annual temperatures seen in the last decade has changed.
Check the figures for yourself here.