Summer of 2009 the Warmest on Record for Oceans

Published on September 23rd, 2009 | by

Early in 2009 NASA predicted that 2009 and 2010 could be years of record global temperatures, and it seems they may be right. The Earth’s oceans have just finished their warmest summer on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. How long is “on record?” – since 1880.

Photo Credit: A-D-Y-B Warmest Summer on Record for World's Oceans
Warmest Summer on Record for World's Oceans

Deke Arndt, climate monitoring branch chief, attributes the high temperatures to a combination of warming from climate change and El Niño, which is a natural warming of parts of the Pacific.

Arndt also emphasized that the heat in the Southern Hemisphere is significant: “The warmth in Australia and South America in August was striking. Land areas in the Southern Hemisphere in August broke their previous record by a large amount,” he said.

“During the season, warmer-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the planet’s surface,” reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an online report.

The only place that didn’t have warmer-than-average temperatures? North-central USA and central Canada. According to the NOAA, that was due to a low pressure system that kept the area cool and cloud-covered much of the time.

Here are the numbers:

2009 summer ocean surface temperature:

62.5º F (1.04º F above the 20th century average).

2009 summer combined land & ocean surface temperature:

61.2º F (Third-warmest on record)

2009 full year combined land & ocean surface temperature:

58.3º F (Fifth-warmest January-August on record)

Beyond setting records, these statistics on temperatures only tell part of the story- what kind of effect are they having on the ice?

Arctic sea ice covered 18.4% less than the 1979-2000 average for August. Conversely, coverage by Antarctic sea ice was 2.7% above average for the same time period.

Many scientists are saying the combined effects of El Niño and warming from climate change could make 2010-2020 the warmest decade in human history.

“If El Niño continues to mature as projected by NOAA, global temperatures are likely to continue to threaten previous record highs,” said the center’s report.

[Research used from Bloomberg , USA Today, and the Guardian]


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