Decadal Temperature Spatial Averages

The ten year averages of temperature anomalies within cells of an icosahedral grid  covering the earth’s surface are shown below.  The images are taken from four different directions. To view each decade yourself using WebGL follow the first set of header links. To enlarge each image just click on it.

Western Hemisphere
1951-1960 (50s) 1961-1970 (6os) 1971-1980 (70s)
1981-1990 (80s) 1991-2000 (9os) 2001-2010 (2000s)
Eastern Hemisphere
50s 6os 70s
80s 9os 2000s
North Pole
50s 6os 70s
80s 9os 2000s
South Pole
50s 6os 70s
80s 9os 2000s

The climate has clearly warmed over the last 60 years, with the exception of Antarctica. The mean regional warming in 2010 was 0.48C since 1950. The maximum warming was 2.14C and the maximum ‘cooling’ was -1.1C. The distribution of the 2001-2010 anomalies compared to the 1950s across all 2652 cells of the grid is shown below.

Figure 1. Distribution of the 10 year average of temperature anomalies within each grid cell.

High cell numbers are in general at higher latitudes. These figures also agree with a 10 year average calculated from the monthly data triangulated on a sphere ( see figure 2.).

Figure 2. Simple 10 year average of annual global anomalies.

One needs to be a bit cautious of colour coded temperature maps because they can give an illusion of extreme warming simply by a judicial choice of colour boundaries. However there is no doubt that the earth has warmed by ~0.5C since 1950 mainly concentrated at high northern latitudes.

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17 Responses to Decadal Temperature Spatial Averages

  1. Lance Wallace says:

    The top 3 images in each set (1950-1980)correspond closely to the general pause in warming (1945-1975) leading to fears of global cooling. The color choice nicely shows the change in the next 30 years leading to fears of global warming. However, the pause in the 2000s is NOT substantiated by your 2000s graphs, which show a clear warming compared to the 1990s, except for the South Pole.

    I take mild objection to the phrase “no doubt”, since it applies to the surface temperatures collected at places that were not designed to give a representative estimate of global temperature.

    Suppose you did a similar set of globes using just the satellite temperatures to give a tropospheric snapshot. Same color scheme.

    Second suggestion. I have been struck by the near-perfect antisymmetry with respect to latitude shown by the UAH data. That is, the poles show a see-saw effect such that the North POle has a 2.5 0C/decade trend while the South Pole shows 0.0 oC/decade trend. The equator and the globe are exactly halfway between, at .125 oC/decade, And the trends of the temperate zones are also nearly perfectly antisymmetric with respect to the equator, something like 0.16 and 0.08, also averaging out to the global (and tropical) trend. Can you check this by a simple x-y plot with x being the latitude. I would expect a nice linear relationship between latitude and the trends shown by your 2652 cells.

    • Clive Best says:


      The pause or Hiatus is not really covered in these plots because the 2000 decade subsumes part of it and the 2010 decade hasn’t finished yet. I just started out by just asking what the data said for 10 yearly averages. 2000’s are then still warmer than 1990’s even including the hiatus.

      The ‘hiatus’ lasted roughly from the end of the last El Nino (1999) to the beginning of the next one 2015. If you plot 2000 – 2014 the trend is more of less flat, despite various corrections made by Cowtan and Way etc.

      I think that there is no doubt that average temps have risen since 1950 in areas where they have been measured. However, there are very few measurements in Africa or South America for example. All the groups perform some sort of area averaging. Some trends were increased by over-sampling or ‘correcting’ in Arctic regions where it was already known temperature ‘anomalies’ had increased the most . The trouble with coloured ‘warming’ maps like those above is that they give the impression the Arctic is ‘warm’. It is not warm – it is still extremely cold. An increase from -40C to -39C may well be welcome news to people living in Siberia !

      The doubt is really about how much of the warming is due to CO2 and whether this is such an urgent problem that we have to immediately begin dismantling the Western economic model. I am skeptical of this Alarmist viewpoint.

      Regarding the latitude dependence I made this plots some time ago.


    • Lance Wallace says:

      Thanks for your response. You did not respond to the idea of plotting the satellite temperatures in the same way. Is there a reason that that would not be useful?

      • Clive Best says:

        Yes it would be useful to plot UAH or RSS in the same way. They measure slightly different things. Satellites deduce the temperature of the lower atmosphere. In other words to compare to 2m measurements includes the assumption that the lapse rate remains constant i.e. the offset of temperature with height.

        The only problem is finding the time.

        • Lance Wallace says:

          Well, a second reason to compare with the surface measurements would be to highlight areas (particularly the southern Hemisphere) where there might be considerable differences between the two measures due to the extreme sparseness of thermometers (Antarctic, Africa, etc.) or to the basic unreliability of surface temperatures (most thermometers at airports that changed over time toward jets from propellers, cement/asphalt runways vs grass/dirt, etc.)

          The geographic variation of the satellite-surface differences would provide a very fruitful area for research into the cause of the differences.

  2. Ron Graf says:

    Thanks for the decadal temperature anomaly renderings. It is clear that the warming pattern is correlated to locality to the North Pole and anti-correlated with the South Pole. Surprisingly, land’s lower heat content does not appear to be much of a factor in comparison with the polarity effect. I was expecting a 50%-80% greater warming trend on land, but if this is the case it is only due to the deficit of land in the southern hemisphere. Or, perhaps the 10-year resolution is smearing the land warming into the adjacent sea surfaces. If this is the case there is not much radiative imbalance as the SST would be reacting much faster than the ~70-year expectation.

    Nick, I visited your neat interactive Google Earth tool and noticed tiny islands that were far off the anomaly of the surrounding sea until clicking the “use adjusted GHCN” box. But then different islands would stand out. Shouldn’t the temperature anomalously of small remote islands be the same as the surrounding SST? Is the variance accounted for by UHI, micro-site, instrumentation or what? There seems little possibility there is a land AGW signal on an island while not showing on the continents.

    • Nick Stokes says:

      ” Shouldn’t the temperature anomalously of small remote islands be the same as the surrounding SST? Is the variance accounted for by UHI, micro-site, instrumentation or what?”
      The trend discrepancy is surprising, but there it is. I doubt UHI; many are virtually uninhabited (eg Gough Island). Adjusted does smooth things quite a lot, but as you say, other things bob up. I should go back and check – I’ve improved my quality control on GHCN, and that may make a difference. Some really do have trends in GHCN – here is St Helena, for example.

  3. Randall Reviere says:

    Hi Clive, I have been through the whole blog and others and have seen much evidence that other drivers (than CO2 related factors) are influencing the global average temperature. My question is “when do you expect temperatures to begin to decline due to orbital mechanics, sun output, etc.?” One hopes this is soon, at least to be done with this argument… which when these conditions manifest, becomes ‘how grateful we are for that small effect of the CO2…’

    • Clive Best says:

      The obliquity of the earth’s axis is reducing. All things being equal we would be entering another Ice Age within a few thousand years. Luckily for us the ellipticity of the Earth’s orbit is rather low so the 23 ky precession cycle is suppressed.

      On its own, increased CO2 until 2100 will tend to warm the surface (somewhere between 1C and 3C). This will likely offset slow orbital effects for a few hundred years. However eventually the orbital changes must win out by which time we may be trying to keep CO2 levels higher than 300ppm, assuming an advanced civilisation still exists.

      • Ron Graf says:

        Clive, I respectfully disagree that there is any chance civilization in the next century would want to keep CO2 artificially high for its warming properties; maybe for agriculture though.

        Robotics combined with space industry will lead to a very practical method to control global solar forcing. Although Lawrence Livermore Labs proposed parking space parasols in between the Sun and Earth in the gravitationally neutral point of known as L1, my prediction is that giant arrays of lenses will be parked there. In this way the solar energy would refracted either to shade or warm as needed by controlling the orbit and angle of incidence of the lens array. Today NASA uses L1 to park satellites that observer the Earth or Sun that orbit in a tight circle to remain stable. All that would be needed to to modify the lens array’s orbit either slightly larger or slightly smaller than the Earth’s diameter and change the angle of tilt slightly to toggle from warming to cooling.

        Voila! A temperature control knob.

        • Ron Graf says:

          I forgot to mention the lenses will be made from silica glass and metals from the Moon.

        • Clive Best says:

          Have you calculated how big those lenses/mirrors would have to be? They would have to reduce incoming solar radiation by something like 4 W/m2. A wind farm covering the earth would generate just 2W/m2 !

          • Ron Graf says:

            The diameter of the Earth is 12,800 Km. The unobstructed radiative flux is 342 W/M2. Thus if we block about 1% or 3.4 W/M2 we would reverse most of all the effects of doubling CO2. That fraction of the Earth’s shadow is pi*r*r*1% or (3.14)*(6400)*(6400)*0.01 = 1,286,000 square Km.

            Thinking more about it, glass breaks and makes a mess and space junk can become unmanageable. The better idea would be to construct a 12,800 diameter solar powered magneto ring that could control and confine a cloud ring of charged colloidal particles just large enough to scatter light. The ring would be able to operate at two polarities, one where the particles would be confined interior to the structure and the other polarity for the particles to be confined outside the ring. In the latter case the cloud would be refracting light that would otherwise miss the Earth in order to warm it. If that was too difficult one could just enlarge the magneto ring.

            From Earth’s perspective the cooling would be experience by dimmer sunrise and sunsets for cooling or slightly extended daylight for warming.

            The effects would be amplified at the poles since a greater proportion of polar insolation is received from horizon located sunlight.

          • Ron Graf says:

            To shade 1.2 million square kilometers, or 1% of the Earth’s profile, from sunlight one would need 1.2 million cubic meters of 1 micron ice cube crystals, or 1.2 billion kilograms of ice crystals.

            One micron is one millionth of a meter and a square kilometer is a million square meters, the units cancel when multiplied to be cubic mete

            With this solution there would be no need for confinement since the solar wind would blow the particles harmlessly to Earth as they were continuously replenished. If we needed warming we would just stop making the crystals and they would dissipate.

            The ice could be gotten by diverting an icy asteroid or of a few million tons.

          • Ron Graf says:

            The cheaper alternative would be simply to disperse pulverized Moon dust.

            The next level would be to create the necklace of magnetically confined colloid. The magnetic fields would be produced by electric fields generated by devices similar to what NASA is working on now to create an artificial magnetosphere around Mars from its L1 spot.

            This concept should be applied to the Earth first. It might have been forgotten that we are currently vulnerable to solar coronal mass ejections or solar flares, which could wipe out electrical grids, etc. One logical protection would be to deflect solar particle radiation from the vantage point of L1, which is about three times the distance from Earth as is magnetopause from its geomagetic field.

            The modification of the NASA concept would be to make a necklace of units orbiting in a one Earth diameter circle in L1. Each of the electrical field units would protect a zone from the solar wind as well as confine a dust cloud. The dust would need to be a colloid with a dipole, as in a negatively charged core and positively charged coating. This would keep it from agglomerating, stay dispersed yet confined by the magnetic field.

            This same technology should be applied to Mars but the necklace should exceed the martian diameter in order to scatter sunlight that would have otherwise missed Mars, thus enhancing surface warmth while protecting its growing atmosphere.

          • Clive Best says:

            As a last resort it may work assuming we actually were to need drastic action. The cost would probably be less than attempting to decarbonise (by force?) the world’s economy.

            I personally think that run-away global warming is impossible even if CO2 were ever to reach say 1000ppm. Negative feedbacks from H2O must always dominate, otherwise the oceans would have boiled away billions of years ago.

  4. Ron Graf says:

    Here is news today from NASA that humans (military) have inadvertently created a third protective radiation belt around the Earth with the effects of ground transmitters of very low radio waves used to communicate with submarines.

    If we are already blocking the solar wind by accident it must be very feasible to create space based electric fields that could confine particles in L1.

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