Global Climate Report - December 2010
Contents of this Section:
- The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for December 2010 was 0.37°C (0.67°F) above the 20th century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F). This tied with 1982 and 1994 as the 17th warmest December on record. It was the coolest December since 2000.
- The global land surface temperature for December 2010 was 0.38°C (0.68°F) above the 20th century average of 3.7°C (38.7°F). This tied with 1994 as the 30th warmest December on record.
- The worldwide ocean surface temperature for December 2010 tied with 1994 and 1998 as the tenth warmest December on record, 0.36°C (0.65°F) above the 20th century average of 15.7°C (60.4°F).
- For the year (January–December), the combined global land and ocean surface temperature tied with 2005 as the warmest such period on record, at 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). 1998 is the third warmest year-to-date on record, at 0.60°C (1.08°F) above the 20th century average.
Please Note: The data presented in this report are preliminary. Ranks and anomalies may change as more complete data are received and processed. Effective with the July 2010 State of the Climate Report, NCDC transitioned to the new version (version 3b) of the extended reconstructed sea surface temperature (ERSST) dataset. ERSST.v3b is an improved extended SST reconstruction over version 2. For more information about the differences between ERSST.v3b and ERSST.v2 and to access the most current data, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.
Temperature anomalies for December 2010 are shown on the dot maps below. The dot map on the left provides a spatial representation of anomalies calculated from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) dataset of land surface stations using a 1961–1990 base period. The dot map on the right is a product of a merged land surface and sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). For the merged land surface and SST analysis, temperature anomalies with respect to the 1971–2000 average for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for December 2010 tied with 1982 and 1994 as the 17th warmest December since records began in 1880, at 0.37°C (0.67°F) above the 20th century average. This was the coolest December on record since 2000. The Southern Hemisphere combined global land and ocean surface temperature was also the 17th warmest December on record, while the Northern Hemisphere combined global land and ocean temperature was the 20th warmest.
The worldwide land surface temperature tied with 1994 as the 30th warmest December on record, at 0.38°C (0.68°F) above the 20th century average of 3.7°C (38.7°F). A large-scale climate pattern—the Arctic Oscillation—influenced land surface temperatures across parts of the Northern Hemisphere during the month. The Northern Hemisphere December land temperature tied with 1923 and 1973 as the 34th warmest on record, while the Southern Hemisphere land temperature tied with 1980 as the 22nd warmest December on record. More than two-thirds of the Earth's land mass is located in the Northern Hemisphere.
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a periodic fluctuation in sea surface temperature (El Niño) and the air pressure of the overlying atmosphere (Southern Oscillation) across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, affecting weather patterns in many parts of the world. In December, a moderate-to-strong cold phase (La Niña) ENSO persisted as sea surface temperaures in the eastern and equatorial Pacific Ocean remained cooler than normal. The December 2010 worldwide averaged ocean temperature tied with 1994 and 1998 as the tenth warmest on record, 0.36°C (0.65°F) above the 20th century average of 15.7°C (60.4°F). The Northern Hemisphere ocean temperature was the ninth warmest on record and the Southern Hemisphere ocean temperature tied with 1979, 1999, and 2000 as the 17th warmest on record. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC), La Niña is expected to peak during the end of 2010 into early 2011 and last at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2011 with a lesser intensity.
Across the globe, the warmest temperature anomalies during December 2010 were present across most of north-central and eastern Canada, far eastern and southwestern Russia, and southeastern Europe. The coolest temperature anomalies were located in northern and western Europe, central Russia, southern Alsaka, much of the eastern United States, interior Australia, and most of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean.
Regionally, a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation brought cooler-than-average temperatures to large portions of the Northern Hemispere land areas. The United Kingdom's temperatures were, on average, about 5°C (9°F) below the 1971–2000 average during the month of December, making it the coldest December in more than 100 years, according to the UK Met Office. It was also the coldest month recorded since February 1986. To the west, Germany's national meteorological service, Deutscher Wetterdienst, reported that the country had its fourth coldest December since reliable records began in 1881 and coldest since 1969, with temperatures 4.5°C (8.1°F) below the 1961–1990 average. The contiguous United States as a whole experienced its seventh largest December snow cover extent (with records dating back to 1966), and the Southeast had its third coldest December on record. The negative Arctic Oscillation also contributed to the lowest December Arctic sea ice extent on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The low sea ice conditions occurred in regions where the ice coverage would typically expand this time of year; however, above-normal temperatures were recorded in these areas.
ENSO also impacted temperature patterns toward the end of 2010. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, La Niña influenced the precipitation patterns over Australia during the latter part of the year. Heavy rainfall across the country brought cooler temperatures, leading to the country's second coolest December on record, behind 1999. The average temperature across Australia for the month was 1.35°C (2.43°F) below normal.
The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure (depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the December 2010 map, respectively) are generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively. For other Global products, please see the Climate Monitoring Global Products page.
The 2010 calendar year (January–December) map of temperature anomalies shows that warmer-than-average temperatures occurred during 2010 over most of the world's surface. The warmest annual above-average temperatures occurred throughout the high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Canada, Alaska, the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, the Middle East, eastern Europe, and northern Africa. Temperatures were notably cooler across the Southern oceans, most of the eastern Pacific Ocean, western Scandinavia, part of central Russia, and parts of Australia. The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for the year tied with 2005 as the warmest January–December period on record. This value is 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average. Please refer to the NCDC State of the Climate Annual Global Anaysis report for more detailed information.
Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2010 from the weekly SST page.
Temperature Rankings and Graphics
(out of 131 years)
|Warmest on Record|
|Land||+0.38 ± 0.07||+0.68 ± 0.13||30th warmest*||2006||+1.33||+2.39|
|Ocean||+0.36 ± 0.07||+0.65 ± 0.13||10th warmest*||1997||+0.58||+1.04|
|Land and Ocean||+0.37 ± 0.07||+0.67 ± 0.13||17th warmest*||2006||+0.72||+1.30|
|Land||+0.41 ± 0.08||+0.74 ± 0.14||34th warmest*||1939||+1.83||+3.29|
|Ocean||+0.38 ± 0.08||+0.68 ± 0.14||9th warmest||2009||+0.55||+0.99|
|Land and Ocean||+0.39 ± 0.09||+0.70 ± 0.16||20th warmest||2006||+0.94||+1.69|
|Land||+0.29 ± 0.06||+0.52 ± 0.11||22nd warmest*||1997||+0.78||+1.40|
|Ocean||+0.36 ± 0.06||+0.65 ± 0.11||17th warmest*||1997||+0.62||+1.12|
|Land and Ocean||+0.35 ± 0.06||+0.63 ± 0.11||17th warmest||1997||+0.64||+1.15|
*Signifies a tie
* Global Land tied with 1994 as 30th warmest on record.
* Global Ocean tied with 1994 and 1998 as 10th warmest on record.
* Global Land and Ocean tied with 1982 and 1994 as 17th warmest on record.
* Northern Hemisphere Land tied with 1923 and 1973 as 34th warmest on record.
* Southern Hemisphere Land tied with 1980 as 22nd warmest on record.
* Southern Hemisphere Ocean tied with 1979, 1999, and 2000 as 17th warmest on record.
(out of 131 years)
|(Next) Warmest on Record|
|Land||+0.96 ± 0.11||+1.73 ± 0.20||2nd warmest*||2007||+0.99||+1.78|
|Ocean||+0.49 ± 0.06||+0.88 ± 0.11||3rd warmest*||2003*||+0.51||+0.92|
|Land and Ocean||+0.62 ± 0.07||+1.12 ± 0.13||Warmest*||(1998)||+0.60||+1.08|
|Land||+1.08 ± 0.14||+1.94 ± 0.25||2nd warmest||2007||+1.15||+2.07|
|Ocean||+0.51 ± 0.07||+0.92 ± 0.13||3rd warmest*||2005||+0.53||+0.95|
|Land and Ocean||+0.73 ± 0.10||+1.31 ± 0.18||Warmest||(2005)||+0.72||+1.30|
|Land||+0.65 ± 0.06||+1.17 ± 0.11||5th warmest*||2005||+0.81||+1.46|
|Ocean||+0.49 ± 0.06||+0.88 ± 0.11||5th warmest||1998||+0.54||+0.97|
|Land and Ocean||+0.51 ± 0.06||+0.92 ± 0.11||6th warmest||1998||+0.57||+1.03|
*Signifies a tie
* Global Land tied with 2005 as the 2nd warmest year on record.
* Global Ocean tied with 2005 as the 3rd warmest year on record.
* Global Land and Ocean tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record.
* Northern Hemisphere Ocean tied with 2003 as the 3rd warmest year on record.
* Southern Hemisphere Land tied with 2003 as the 5th warmest year on record.
The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.
The maps below represent anomaly values based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. During December 2010, above-average precipitation fell over areas that included eastern Australia, most of Central America, much of the western third of the United States, much of eastern Asia, northwest China, Kenya, and Tanzania. Drier-than-average conditions were present across most of the eastern two-thirds of the United States, northern Africa, much of the Middle East, and most of southern South America.
La Niña brought record rainfall to most of Australia toward the end of the year. The country had its wettest spring (September–November; Northern Hemisphere fall) on record. With extreme wetness in December—particularly in the northeastern state of Queensland, which had its wettest December on record and experienced major flooding—the average precipitation across the country was 99 percent above normal for the month, ranking as Australia's second wettest on record, behind December 1975.
La Niña had the opposite effect in parts of North America. According to Mexico's National Weather Service (Servicio Meteorolológico Nacional), the country as a whole reported its driest December since national records began in 1941. In the United States, the Southern Climate Region had its second driest December, with records dating back to 1895.
December brought extremely variable precipitation to China. According to the China Meteorological Administration, the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Heilongijang experienced their wettest December on record, with national records dating back to 1961, while Jilin, Jianxi, and Hunan had their second wettest on record. However, precipitation was 30–80 percent below normal across most of northern China, Huaghuai, Jianghuai, and Shaanxi, enhancing drought conditions in those areas.
Global precipitation in 2010 was well above the 1961–1990 average, ranking as the wettest on record since 1900. Precipitation throughout the year was variable in many areas. Regionally, drier than average conditions were widespread across much of French Polynesia, the Solomon Islands, Hawaiian Islands, northwestern Canada, extreme northwest and northeast Brazil, and southern Peru. The wettest regions induded most of Central America, much of India, southwestern China, east Asia, Borneo, and parts of Australia. Please refer to the NCDC State of the Climate Annual Global Anaysis report for more detailed information.
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Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.
Smith, T.M., and R.W. Reynolds (2005), A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.
Smith, et al (2008), Improvements to NOAA's Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.