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UAH: Expect More Warmth As El Nino Wanes

07.01.2016 09:19 Age: 1 year

The atmosphere should continue to see El Nino-influenced high, even record high, temperatures for the next several months, says UAH's John Christy

Click to enlarge. Average temperature anomalies for the lower troposphere in December 2015. Broken lines circle areas that are cooler than seasonal norms and solid line circle areas that are warmer than seasonal norms. Courtesy: UAH

Click to enlarge. Monthly average global temperature anomalies for the lower troposphere from December 1978 through to December 2015. Courtesy: UAH.

Warmest December, third warmest year

Christy makes his comments in a news release issued with the publication of the latest analysis of satellite measurements of the temperature of the atmosphere by UAH. These show that December was the warmest December since continuous measurement by satellite began in 1979 and that 2015 was the third warmest year in terms of the temperature of the lower troposphere as measured by satellite.

The UAH analysis of global atmospheric temperatures agrees with a different analysis of satellite data by US firm Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) which also placed 2015 third and showed that December 2015 was the warmest month of December in the satellite era.

The fact that temperatures for the global lower troposphere during 2015 were behind those reported for 2010 and 1998, according to both RSS and UAH data, appears to be at variance to the surface temperature datasets from US space agency NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US and the UK Meteorological Office which are all expected to show that 2015 was the warmest year on record in terms of global surface temperatures.

This discrepancy may be partly - but not wholly - explained by the time lag between sea surface temperature warming and atmospheric warming. However, the variance is likely to reignite debate around the changes to the way that sea surface temperatures are analysed that were introduced earlier this year by both NASA and NOAA which had the effect of boosting global average temperatures in recent years.

Five warmest years according to UAH (temperature anomaly - variance to the long-term average - oC)

1998    +0.48
2010    +0.34
2015    +0.27
2002    +0.21
2005    +0.20

Monthly temperature anomalies for the 12 months of 2015 according to UAH (anomaly oC)


2015  1 +0.27 +0.39 +0.16 +0.13
2015  2 +0.16 +0.39 +0.05 -0.06
2015  3 +0.17 +0.26 +0.07 +0.05
2015  4 +0.08 +0.18 -0.01 +0.09
2015  5 +0.28 +0.36 +0.21 +0.27
2015  6 +0.33 +0.41 +0.25 +0.46
2015  7 +0.18 +0.33 +0.03 +0.47
2015  8 +0.27 +0.24 +0.30 +0.51
2015  9 +0.25 +0.34 +0.16 +0.54
2015 10 +0.43 +0.64 +0.21 +0.53
2015 11 +0.33 +0.43 +0.23 +0.53
2015 12 +0.44 +0.51 +0.37 +0.61

Warmest December months (1979-2015)
according to UAH (Warmer than seasonal norms - anomaly oC)

2015    +0.44
1987    +0.38
2003    +0.36
1997    +0.26
1998    +0.24
2014    +0.21
1990    +0.17
2006    +0.16
2001    +0.14
2013    +0.12

Here is the text of a news release issued by the University of Alabama in Huntsville regarding temperature data for December 2015:

Global Temperature Report: December 2015

2015 was third warmest; expect warmer months.

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.11 C per decade

December temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.44 C (about 0.79 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.51 C (about 0.92 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.37 C (about 0.67 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

Tropics: +0.61 C (about 1.10 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for December.

November temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.33 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.43 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.23 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.52 C above 30-year average

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Jan. 6, 2016:

2010    +0.34 C
2015    +0.27 C
2002    +0.21 C
2005    +0.20 C

Archived color maps of local temperature anomalies are available on-line at:

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAHuntsville, NOAA and NASA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data are collected and processed, they are placed in a "public" computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.

End of UAH release


UAH news release.

Roy Spencer's blog here.

UAH data here.

See also

Our stories UAH Agrees With RSS: 2015 Third Warmest Year here and RSS: Warmest December And Third Warmest Year here and El Nino Past peak Says BOM here.