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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 07/21/2008

Freedman: First Half of 2008 Was Warm Worldwide

By Andrew Freedman

The weather so far in 2008 in the Mid-Atlantic region, and across much of the globe, has been warmer than average, government climate data shows. This should come as no surprise, since above average temperatures are expected with global warming. What is especially interesting, though, is the persistence of the warming trend in the Washington area, and the pronounced spike in June temperatures in other parts of the world.

Keep reading for more on global, national, and local climate trends. For current weather, see our full forecast.

In the first six months of the year, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), which is part of NOAA, recently reported that global land surface temperatures have been 1.37 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, with combined land and ocean temperatures of .79 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. The globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the eighth warmest on record for June since such records began in 1880, according to NCDC, and it was the ninth warmest January to June period on record.

January-June temperature departures from average for land and ocean combined, ocean, and land (top to bottom). Graph courtesy NOAA.

While the year has been milder than normal on a local and global level, 2008 is not making a run at the title of the warmest year on record, and it is not expected to do so. As far as NOAA is concerned, 1998 still wears that crown.

Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, five of the six months since January have been milder than normal, with May ranking as the only cooler than normal month. Amazingly, 13 of the past 14 months have been warmer than normal at Reagan National Airport according to the National Weather Service.

In June, temperatures averaged 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal (defined as the 1971-2000 average) at National, and there were eight days that hit 90 degrees or above. Mother nature also raised quite a racket in June, when 19 thunderstorms rumbled through the District, as we've previously written.

The NCDC's "dot map" of monthly global temperature anomalies looked decidedly red for June, with many land areas having experienced warmer than normal conditions. Note that warmer than average conditions on this map are compared to a base period of 1961 to 1990.

Greenland and parts of Russia had a particularly toasty start to their summer. Warmer-than-average conditions were also observed in Australia, parts of Africa, and most of Europe. Cooler than normal conditions were noted in some areas, such as a swath of land from the Upper Midwest up through the Canadian Rockies and into Alaska, as well as parts of Russia and South America.

The NCDC's map of global temperature anomalies during the past six months was also dominated by red dots, with warmer than normal conditions observed throughout Europe, Asia, parts of Australia, the eastern and southern U.S., parts of South America and most of Africa.

January-June temperature departures from average for the globe. Red dots indicate above average temperatures, blue dots indicate below average temperatures. Map courtesy NOAA.

As was the case during June, parts of the northern and western United States were cooler-than normal, along with eastern Australia and portions of South America.

Regarding ocean temperatures, cooler than average conditions prevailed in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean as well as parts of the northeastern Pacific, which was associated with La Nina conditions. La Nina has since waned, and ocean waters were predominantly warmer than average in other areas.

One particularly noteworthy overseas weather event in June that had totally escaped my attention were record rains in southern China. This region is normally quite wet in the summertime, but the figures for last month are astounding. Due in part to Typhoon Fengshen, which killed more than 1,000 people in the Phillipines and China, June turned out to be the wettest month on record for Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Macao. Hong Kong was drenched with 54 inches of rain for the month, breaking the previous record by about four inches. By comparison, in a wet month, 4.8 inches fell on D.C.

By Andrew Freedman  | July 21, 2008; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman  
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