Global Warming VIII – 2016 Temperature Record


Last year was the hottest year in the global surface temperature record going back to 1880. It broke the previous record set in 2015, which broke the previous record, set in 2014. This is the first time, in this temperature record, that three successive years set records.

This news formed the Science in the News segment of my U of Tampa class although we won’t study climate change for five or six weeks.

The New York Times had an informative article and graphic on the subject. The headline for the article is Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year. I shared some of the material from the graphic with my students, and now with you and our readers.

This chart shows Tampa’s temperatures for each day in 2016.

The vertical axis shows temperature in Fahrenheit. The horizontal axis, labeled by the months, shows each day of the year. On any day, the dark bar shows the range of high and low temperature for that day, and the medium gray shows the normal temperature range for that day, and the faint gray bar shows the record high and the record low for that day.

Below the temperature chart is a rainfall chart. In each month of the horizontal axis, the month’s chart shows the cumulative rainfall for that month.

In the temperature chart, you see the seasons, cooler in January and December, and warm in July and August. After all this is Tampa, so I mean hot in the summer.

In the chart, the Times shows which days were record highs or lows that that day. In a stable climate, you’d expect to find roughly equal numbers of record highs and record lows. Last year Tampa there were 16 record daily highs and no record lows! My Tampa native darling wife thought that December was unusually warm, which you can see in the chart too, compared to the years, which I won’t specify, of her childhood, youth, and college. December here was about 7 F above normal!

To me this is powerful evidence (among many other matters I could show) that the climate is warming. Of course, the record for one city, by itself is not significant. The Times graphic has data like this for hundreds of cities, worldwide.

Here’s Boston.

I’d guess that you remember that day in mid-February that set that record low, -4 F. But that was the only record low for the year, and there were five record highs. For the year, Boston’s average temperature was 1.9 F above normal.

In honor of another of my buddies, here’s Seattle.

Twenty-one record daily highs, no record daily lows! 2.4 F above normal for the year.

It’s useful and informative to visit this site and check your favorite cities. These three are US cities, and the US is only 3% of the Earth’s surface, so check out some foreign ones. See if you can find any in which record daily lows exceed record daily highs.

Donald Trump, our new president, a man of profound ignorance, believes that global warming is a hoax cooked up by the Chinese as part of a plot to destroy US industry. He says he will withdraw Uncle Sam’s signature from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. His cabinet and other senior nominees have been testifying on Capitol Hill in recent days, and they seem to be grudgingly admitting that the climate is warming. They even admit that human activity may be influencing the climate, among natural factors. But they all assert that the extent and significance of this human influence is open to dispute, which is false.

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