Parts of Canada and the US have had a coolish summer, but throughout the rest of the world — and especially on the world’s oceans — it’s been a scorcher, according to data just released by NOAA. For combined surface and water temperatures, 2009 is proving to be the second hottest summer on record. In fact, the oceans have never been as warm as they are right now at 62.5°F, a full 1.04°F above the 20th century average, and that’s particularly worrisome because water takes a long time to warm, and a long time to cool. In fact, it takes five times more energy to warm water than land, and that warm water will influence land temperatures dramatically. What’s particularly interesting to NOAA researchers is that this spike in temperatures is occurring while we’re going through the deepest solar minimum in more than a century.

As climate models predicted some time ago, arctic amplification is occurring now, and temperatures there are rising disproportionately, and have been for years. Siberia, for example, is experiencing temperatures that are 5.4°F above normal, and that’s why the arctic sea ice is rapidly retreating. This year will go down as the third worst melt on record, a full 18.4% below the late 20th century average.

The headlines are likely to get more dire. NASA is predicting that el Nino and global warming will combine to set record temperatures for 2010, and that the coming decade will be the warmest in human history. (Source: The Guardian, Climate Progress, September 17, 2009)

Contact: John Leslie, Media, NOAA, (301) 713-2087, ext. 174, john.leslie@noaa.gov, www.noaa.gov

2007-2009 Data Driven Arctic Ice Mapping Simulation