Global Science Report is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science, where we highlight one or two important new items in the scientific literature or the popular media. For broader and more technical perspectives, consult our monthly “Current Wisdom.”
A few weeks have now passed since the end of last year, giving enough time for various data-compiling (and “data-adusting”) agencies to get their numbers in order and to release the sad figures from 2013.
U.S. Annual Average Temperature
We pointed out, back in this post in mid-December, that there was an outside chance—if December were cold enough—that the average annual temperature for the U.S. in 2013 would fall below the 20th century average for the first time since 1996. Well, despite how cold it seemed in December, it turned out to not quite be cold enough to push the January-December 2013 temperature anomaly into negative territory. Figure 1 below shows the U.S. temperature history as compiled by the National Climatic Data Center from 1895 through 2013.
Figure 1. U.S. annual average temperature as compiled by the National Climatic Data Center, 1895-2013 (data: NCDC Climate at a Glance).
Please be advised that this history has been repeatedly “revised” to either make temperatures colder in the earlier years or warmer at the end. Not one “adjustment” has the opposite effect, a clear contravention of logic and probability. While the US has gotten slightly warmer in recent decades, compared to the early 20th century, so have the data themselves. It’s a fact that if you just take all the thousands of fairly evenly-spaced “official” weather stations around the country and average them up since 1895, that you won’t get much of a warming trend at all. Consequently a major and ongoing federal effort has been to try and cram these numbers into the box imposed by the theory that gives the government the most power—i.e., strong global warming.
What immediately stands out in 2013 is how exceptional the average temperature in 2012 (the warmest year in the record) really was. In fact, the recovery in 2013 from the lofty heights in 2012 was the largest year-over-year temperature decline in the complete 119 year record—an indication that 2012 was an outlier more so than “the new normal.”