NCDC Frequently Asked Questions
Global temperatures have decreased since 2005, does that mean global warming is over?
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Examination of changes in climate extremes requires long-term daily or even hourly data sets which until recently have been scarce for many parts of the globe. However these data sets have become more widely available allowing research into changes in temperature and precipitation extremes on global and regional scales. Global changes in temperature extremes include decreases in the number of unusually cold days and nights and increases in the number of unusually warm days and nights. Other observed changes include lengthening of the growing season, and decreases in the number of frost days.
Global temperature extremes have been found to exhibit no significant trend in interannual variability, but several studies suggest a significant decrease in intra-annual variability. There has been a clear trend to fewer extremely low minimum temperatures in several widely-separated areas in recent decades. Widespread significant changes in extreme high temperature events have not been observed. There is some indication of a decrease in day-to-day temperature variability in recent decades.
In areas where a drought or excessive wetness usually accompanies an El Niño or La Niña, these dry or wet spells have been more intense in recent years. Further, there is some evidence for increasing drought worldwide, however in the U.S. there is no evidence for increasing drought.In some areas where overall precipitation has increased (ie. the mid-high northern latitudes), there is evidence of increases in the heavy and extreme precipitation events. Even in areas such as eastern Asia, it has been found that extreme precipitation events have increased despite total precipitation remaining constant or even decreasing somewhat. This is related to a decrease in the frequency of precipitation in this region.
Many individual studies of various regions show that extra-tropical cyclone activity seems to have generally increased over the last half of the 20th century in the northern hemisphere, but decreased in the southern hemisphere. Furthermore, hurricane activity in the Atlantic has shown an increase in number since 1970 with a peak in 2005. It is not clear whether these trends are multi-decadal fluctuations or part of a longer-term trend.