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Extreme Warming Forces Climate Scientists to Add Hot Pink to Temperature Map

SOURCE: Hansen and Sato, 2011 via Climate Progress Winter Surface temperature anomalies relative to 1951-1980 mean.

Last month I reported on a new paper by NASA’s James Hansen and Makiko Sato (see Hansen: “One sure bet is that this decade will be the warmest” on record).  Kate at ClimateSight sighted a new color in the chart, “pink, which is even warmer than dark red.”

For those wondering why the x-axis jumps to 11.1°C, I emailed Hansen that very question, and he explains, “the numbers on the far right and far left of the color scale give the most extreme value that occurs in that particular (set of) map(s).”

It’s no surprise that new colors and extended ranges are need, given the accelerated Arctic warming we’ve been seeing.  As I reported in January, Canada sees staggering mildness as planet’s high-pressure record is “obliterated”:

Temperature anomalies in North America, 12.10-1.11

Surface temperature anomalies for the period 17 December 2010 to 15 January 2011 show impressive warmth across the Canadian Arctic….

The largest anomalies here exceed 21°C (37.8°F) above average, which are very large values to be sustained for an entire month.

The NSF-sponsored researchers at UCAR/NCAR posted some staggering data on just how warm it has been in northern Canada:

To put this picture into even sharper focus, let’s take a look at Coral Harbour, located at the northwest corner of Hudson Bay in the province of Nunavut. On a typical mid-January day, the town drops to a low of –34°C (–29.2°F) and reaches a high of just -26°C (–14.8°F). Compare that to what Coral Harbour actually experienced in the first twelve days of January 2011, as reported by Environment Canada…

  • After New Year’s Day, the town went 11 days without getting down to its average daily high.
  • On the 6th of the month, the low temperature was –3.7°C (25.3°F). That’s a remarkable 30°C (54°F) above average.
  • On both the 5th and 6th, Coral Harbor inched above the freezing mark. Before this year, temperatures above 0°C (32°F) had never been recorded in the entire three months of January, February, and March.

Both NOAA and NASA data showing 2010 tied with 2005 for hottest year on record.  As meteorologist and former NOAA Hurricane hunter Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground reported last November, “The year 2010 now has the most national extreme heat records for a single year–nineteen. These nations comprise 20% of the total land area of Earth. This is the largest area of Earth’s surface to experience all-time record high temperatures in any single year in the historical record.”

NASA may have added pink to their maps, but the climate situation has been code-red for a while.

Joe Romm is the Editor of Climate Progress and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. This is cross-posted at Climate Progress.

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