Global Climate Report - Annual 1999
PLEASE NOTE: The ranks and temperature anomalies in this report represent the values known at the time the report was issued. The actual ranks will change as subsequent years are added to the dataset. The anomalies themselves may change slightly as missing or erroneous data is resolved. Also, in 2009, NCDC switched to ERSST version 3b (from version 2) as a component of its global surface temperature dataset. Because the versions have slightly different methodologies, the calculated temperature anomalies will differ slightly. For more information about this switch please see the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies FAQ .
The Global mean (Land and Ocean combined) temperature for 1999 (depicted above) was the 5th warmest on record since 1880. Globally, the departure from the long-term average (1880-1998) was 0.41 degrees C (0.74F). The annual temperature departures from the long-term mean for each year from 1880 to 1999 can be found in this file.The warmest and second warmest years were 1998 and 1997. The top 6 warmest years have been in the 1990's. Each year of this decade has been one of the top 15 warmest of the century.
Land temperatures continued near-record warmth at 0.76 degrees C (1.36 degrees F) above the long term average of 13.1 degrees C (56.9 degrees F). 1999's average land temperature was second only to 1998. However, in 1999 ocean temperatures averaged over the globe were much lower than 1998, the lowest since 1994. The annual land temperature departures from the long-term mean for each year from 1880 to 1999 can be found in this file. Just as the large areas of warm waters associated with an El Niño pattern contributed to the record high temperatures in 1998, the cooler ocean conditions in 1999 associated with cold phase of El Niño (or La Niña) helped to ameliorate what might otherwise have been an even warmer year. While ocean temperatures were among the lowest of the past decade, they still averaged 15.5 degrees C (59.8F) or 0.26 degrees C (0.47F) above the long-term average. The annual ocean temperature departures from the long-term mean for each year from 1880 to 1999 can be found in this file.
Note below how in the region from 20N to 90N (figure 2), temperatures were nearly as warm in 1999 as they were in 1998. The most significant cooling in 1999, for both land and ocean, occurred in the tropics (figure 3). Also worth noting is that in the Southern Hemisphere, oceans below 20S (figure 5) have barely cooled since last year's record warmth there.
fig 1. Northern Hemisphere
fig 2. 90N - 20N
larger image fig 3. Tropics
fig 4. Southern Hemisphere
fig 5. 20S - 90S
This figure of average land temperatures for the globe (based on the period 1880-1998) shows continued warmth over most of the Eurasian and North American land masses. In June and July, Russia experienced one of its longest heat waves of the century. Maximum temperatures in Moscow were last equaled in 1895. In parts of central and northern Europe, September was the warmest in this century with recorded anomalies in Germany exceeding 8 degrees F above the long-term average. Global land temperatures for November were the warmest on record.
Most of Europe was colder than average in February, however, which led to the above average snowfall, particularly across the Alps region. Portions of the southern hemisphere land mass temperatures were near to below average for the year. Temperatures in western and southern South America were below average due to the La Niña-induced cool sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific. Central and southern Africa was also cooler than average for the latter half of the year. The Sahel region in particular was cloudier and cooler than in recent years.
Widespread spatial variability in precipitation was noted in 1999. Severe drought affected western Russia during the early summer heat wave resulting in numerous forest fires. The long standing dryness in the Middle East intensified during the year with low water levels reported in Israel and Syria. An early season drought in the Sahel region of Africa was alleviated by a significant wet regime that began in July and continued until November. Areas in the western Sahel experienced flooding rains in September and October. Similarly, dry conditions in eastern China in the early part of 1999 were alleviated by significant rainfall beginning in March. Continued heavy rainfall resulted in severe flooding (although not as severe as 1998 floods in the same area) along the Yangtze River in July.
In South America, dryness in the Paraguay/Uruguay region continued to worsen late in the year. However, in Venezuela, December coastal precipitation resulted in severe flooding, mudslides, and thousands of deaths. Central Europe experienced above normal precipitation during the winter months with one of the heaviest snowfall seasons in the past 50 years in the Alps. Warmer temperatures with snow melt and above normal rainfall led to severe flooding during the Spring in eastern Europe. In southwestern Europe, precipitation was well above average in September and October. Although the monsoon was weaker than average in western India, a strong monsoon and a number of tropical systems resulted in well above average precipitation and consequent flooding in eastern India and Bangladesh.
Precipitation trends in the mid-latitude band (30N-55N) in the Northern Hemisphere show an approximate 7% increase over the past Century. However, for 1999, precipitation in this band was near normal following a record year in 1998 due to El Niño conditions. Precipitation in the band from 10N-30N was the greatest since the 1950s, with above average values across the Sahel, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. The mid-latitude band in the Southern Hemisphere (30S-55S), which also shows a 7% increase over the past Century, was significantly wetter than 1998, with 1999 ranked as the third wettest year of this decade.
Exceptionally warm conditions continued over Canada and Asia in December. Most of the Northern Hemisphere experienced above average warmth. The only cooler than normal areas were Alaska, Central America,western and central Europe, northern Africa, and parts of Indochina. In the Southern Hemisphere, the south central interior part of South America and most of Australia experienced cooler than average temperatures.
In most of the United States and southern Canada, below average precipitation continued in December. Northern and central Europe was generally wet, but southern Europe and northern Africa was drier than average. Most of Asia experienced near average precipitation. Extreme eastern Asia, however, was much wetter than average. Australia was generally wet, and South America has pockets of wet areas in Brazil and along the Venezuelan coast mixed with generally drier than average conditions.
Global and U.S. Natural Disasters
Deadly floods hit the South American country of Venezuela around mid-December leaving tens of thousands of Venezuelans stranded without food or water. Media sources and humanitarian agencies are reporting that the number of people killed by floods that occurred Dec. 15 -17 is estimated between 20,000 and 50,000, more than twice the number killed in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch hit Central America. Between 400,000 and 600,000 are believed homeless.
Another significant disaster occurred in eastern India in October when two cyclones (the second of which was one of the most intense ever observed in the Bay of Bengal), struck the area. Flooding and storm surge resulted in a preliminary estimate of 10,000 fatalities. Snow melt in eastern Europe in May caused extreme flooding on the Danube River with losses amounting to one billion German Marks. Exceptionally heavy snowfall in the Alps resulted in one of the worst avalanche seasons in the Alps in this Century with at least 50 fatalities.
China reported hundreds of fatalities, with nearly 2 million people displaced, in mid-year as heavy rainfall flooded the Yangtze River for the second consecutive year. Monsoon rains also resulted in hundreds of fatalities in Korea and the Philippines in August. Heavy precipitation in Vietnam in November and December produced the worst flooding of this century with 1 million people reported homeless and nearly 700 fatalities. Flooding rains also led to numerous casualties in the normally arid west Sahel region.
In the Atlantic, another above average hurricane season, when combined with seasons beginning in 1995, produced a 5-year period with the greatest number of tropical systems on record. Hurricane Floyd struck the North Carolina coast in September with rainfall producing floods exceeding the expected 500-year event. Floyd was the fifth hurricane in 3 years to affect this portion of the U.S. coastline. 1999 also produced five category 4 hurricanes, the greatest number in any one year on record. These flooding rains alleviated a multi-month drought in the eastern U.S. which resulted in the driest growing season on record in most of the states from west Virginia to Maine. This increase in the Atlantic basin is partially due to above average sea surface temperatures and may signal a return to increased tropical activity that characterized the 1950s and 1960s. The 1970-1990 period was characterized by less frequent and relatively less intense tropical systems with minimal number of landfalls, especially in areas with large population growth and infrastructure development.
In the United States, over 200 tornadoes were observed in January, nearly 14 times the average number. In May, a series of strong tornadoes affected Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas resulting in over 50 fatalities. Through November, the U.S. experienced the second greatest number of tornadoes on record, following 1998's record year. Although annual totals show a long term increase since the 1950s, much of this increase is attributed to improved observing capabilities. There is no apparent change in the frequency of strong-to-catastrophic tornadoes (F3 and above), the type of tornadoes that rarely go undetected.
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