Global climate change

Update on Global Climate Highlights

7/23/2015, 5:18:43 PM

Continuing our look at NOAA's recently released '2014 State of the Climate' I picked out a some of the global data highlights that were discussed in the NOAA report via Climate.gov.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide growth

Latest atmospheric concentration courtesy the Mauna Loa Observatory. Current concentration as of June was 402.80 ppm.

590x431_07240044_co2_data_mlo


Globally, the growth of atmospheric CO2 has accelerated from about 0.6 ppm/yr just over 50 years ago to an average of 2 ppm/yr over the last 10 years.

Interesting point made by NOAA's Caitlyn Kennedy is that the growth of CO2 does vary from year to year. In recent years the growth has varied from 0.7 to 2.8 ppm/yr. Much of this variability can be attributed to the changes phases of ENSO (El Nino Southern oscillation). ENSO can have a large impact on the natural exchange of CO2 between land, ocean and atmosphere.

Mountain glaciers

Globally, mountain glaciers continued to shrink in 2014, losing an average of 853 mm of water equivalent. The last year that saw a positive annual global balance was in 1983.


590x383_07240053_glacierloss1980-2014_610


Unfortunately, the loss is accelerating. In the 1980's the average loss was 221 mm/yr water equivalent, 389 mm/yr in the 1990's and 726 mm/yr in the 2000's.

Since 1980 the averaged size glacier has lost the equivalent of an 18.5 meter thick slice of ice off of it's top, according to Michon Scott, who is the author of this NOAA article.

Hottest days vs. coldest nights.

The maps below show the frequency of warm days and cool nights in 2014 compared to the long term average (1961-1990).


590x367_07240105_warmdaysfrequency_map_2014_610


Days with high temperatures warmer than 90 percent of the 1961-1990 record are considered warm days. Nights with low temperatures in the bottom 10 percent of the temperature record are considered cool nights, according to Muchon Scott of NOAA.

The warm days map shows areas where the frequency of warm days in 2014 was higher than the 1961-1990 average and areas where they were lower in blue.

The cool nights map shows places where the frequency of cool nights was below-average in red/orange. In areas where the frequency of cool nights was above average are colored blue.


590x367_07240107_coolnightsfrequency_map_2014_610


Note: the most prominent area for cooling was in eastern North America, while much of the remainder of the world was in the red/orange.

Changes in the above data since the 1950's.

590x328_07240108_warmdays-coolnightsgraph_610


Global fires

Total global fire emissions in 2014 were close to the 2001-2013 average, however, they were 70 percent above average for North America, with the highest increase in Canada. A combination of low winter precipitation, above average temperatures and low summer rainfall was the main culprit, especially in northwest Canada. So far in 2015 the wildfire season in worse than 2014 in western Canada.

Overall, the trend of global biomass burning has been relatively stable since the mid-1990's with some extreme years intermixed with some years with below-normal burning.

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Images and information courtesy NOAA's Climate.gov.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Global climate change