At the end of last year, meteorologists were predicting a warm 2010, with the Met Office suggesting it could beat 1998 to be the warmest year on record. Those claims began to look a little dubious as the snow fell and many parts of the world had a very cold summer. But how are we doing six months later?
Extreme heat has been in the news around the world. Iraq has seen a new high with a scorching 52°C (125°F) on the 14th of June, but Pakistan beat that with 53.5°C (128°F) in May – the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia. So far nine countries have set new heat records in 2010, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Niger and Sudan. And that’s a record in itself – for most temperature records set in one year, beating six in 2003’s European heat wave.
Russia spent July on a heatwave alert, triggering a state of emergency across much of the country. Temperatures have peaked at 44°C (111°F) near the Kazakhstan border, and the country has seen hundreds of drowning incidents as people cool off in fountains and ponds.
In the US, Delaware, New Jersey, and North Carolina had record temperatures for June, coming in as the 8th hottest June in the US overall. The UK hasn’t been too hot, but has had the driest six months in 100 years.
What does all this mean? Well, individual weather events mean very little. Warm weather now doesn’t confirm climate change, any more than cold weather in January dis-proved it, although I don’t suppose those that printed climate change de-bunking snow stories will be retracting their headlines. Climate change is only measurable in long-term trends, and it isn’t uniform. Some places will be cooler even in a record-breaking year, and the advance of climate change is not linear, each year hotter than the next.
So far though, it looks like the predictions are on track. The first two quarters of 2o10 set new high points on NASA’s dataset, and it may well be the new hottest year. It may not prove climate change, but at least it will bury the idiotic claim that the world has been cooling since 1998.