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Summer 2010: Hottest Ever?

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Summer 2010: Hottest Ever?

Summer 2010? Man, it was a hot one. Unparalleled heat waves in eastern Europe, drought and fires in Moscow, forests aflame in the western U.S. and failing power grids in the East. And just last week, with one foot firmly planted in Autumn, triple digits were defiantly tipping the mercury in California. I’d love to know exactly how many west coast Facebookers mentioned the temperature in their status updates last week.

But was this summer really any hotter than others? I’ve long suspected that we have a strange relationship with how we perceive and remember weather. In the thick of it, it always feels like this is the coldest, wettest, snowiest, driest, hottest, etc season ever. But it seems to me that that is more a function of it just being the weather we are living through, it’s the present; the memory of weather can be so subjective.

So from a global perspective, exactly how hot was this summer? Aside from our personal perspective, what do the statistics look like on paper? And when everyone starts grumbling about the heat and global warming–is there any merit to it? These are the questions that scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, led by GISS’s director, James Hansen, addressed as they analyzed summer temperatures for the recent update on the GISS website that tackles these types of issues.

According to the GISS analysis, June through August of 2010 was the fourth-warmest summer, globally, in GISS’s 131-year-temperature record. Last summer (2009) was the second warmest on record. The slightly cooler 2010 summer temperatures were primarily the result of a moderate La Niña (cooler than normal temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean) replacing a moderate El Niño (warmer than normal temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean). But then I wonder,  how does that jive with the cold winter we had?

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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11:52AM PDT on Jun 14, 2015

Thank you Melissa.

4:11AM PST on Jan 31, 2014

thank you for sharing

9:26AM PDT on Aug 16, 2013

Thank you for the interesting informationa about the weather.

12:58AM PDT on Sep 29, 2012

Interesting, thank you.

12:57AM PDT on Sep 29, 2012

Interesting, thank you.

3:35PM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

Nope, not spewing hate--spewing reality. The problem with it is reality bites worse than hatred.

5:26AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Jim S.: Right to the core! Global warming is a fact! What regions like the US have to face is harsher hurricanes, more fires, droughts, rains, etc. What countries like Bangladeshm Netherlands and several Pacific Island nation face is extinction. Plain and simple. The Netherlands have come a long way in protecting their country and thay have the money and support, but countries like Bangladesh isn't as well equipped to deal with the changed climate. Some Pacific Island nations are actively seeking to relocate. There have been plenty of appeals to larger countries to help those smaller nations move everything to a new place and set up their countries elsewhere because their present nation is disappearing. All you deniers of the climate change, go ask someone in Kiribati, Vanuatu, The Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Micronesia or parts of Papua New Guinea what they think of the Global Warming Hoax! And just hope you get away alive!!!

And to Charles Webb, whose only reason for a membership at Care2, is to spew his hate: Why don't you crawl back under that rock you emerged from and leave us CARING people alone!

7:27AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

Yahweh, our great Creator and Father Made a perfect planet for His children to live. He put the dinosours here to live and make fuel for us to discover when the time came for us to need it. He took the dinosours away to protect us. He gave us animals to provide food and warmth to our bodies, and plants to eat and trees to build our houses. He gave us water to drink. He did not make a planet that would distroy us. If the planet is being warmed more by a hotter sun, there is a reason--perhaps to open up more land and resources for us to discover under the ice. Who knows?

7:09AM PST on Nov 7, 2010

If it wasn't for the global warming lies, noobody would care how hot or cold it was. They would just complain like they always did. Now they have to point fingers and blame humanity. It's pretty sick. I'll be glad when all this nonsense is done with.

10:59PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

They tell us that it is the hottest year ever globally. They tell us that it is the hottest year ever in Greenland. They tell us that Greenland is melting down at unprecedented rates and that sea level rising faster than forecast.

But when we look at the data and the photos, there is nothing much happening.

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