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The Big Drop

Well, it looks as if we have been living right for the past year—for just in time for Christmas, we get news of the Big Drop. Global satellite-based temperatures have fallen from their 10-month run of record values to a level that is within the normal range of variation. The global average monthly temperature for November is only 0.141C above normal, down from 0.421C above normal in October. This drop of 0.28C marks the fourth-largest single-month drop in the 20-year history of the satellite record.

Figure 1. During the month of November, the global average temperature depatures as measured by satellites finally came down from their rather lofty perch.

We know it seems like we have been promising this fall-off for months (WCR, Vol. 3, No. 15, No. 19; Vol. 4, No. 3, ad nauseam), but the moment has finally arrived. Ironically enough, it occurred during a month in which the press was filled with reports about how the warmth experienced over the eastern half of the United States (while it was nice and all) was a real sign that global warming (and all of its evil accomplices) was upon us.

These press reports totally ignored, of course, the incredibly low temperatures that were gripping Europe and northern Asia.

Figure 2 shows that, for the month, temperatures there ranked in the coldest 10 percent of the long-term record. This large cold anomaly was partly responsible for the global return to more normal temperatures in November.

Figure 2 (26201 bytes)

Figure 2. While the press paid a lot of attention to the warm anomalies (light shading) in the eastern United States, little mention was made of the much larger temperature anomaly over Europe and northern Asia (hatched area). (Black shading indicates not enough data.).   Source: Climatic Prediction Center

That the warm temperatures were nicely confined to calendar year 1998 is going to make for a record high global temperature that will likely be unequaled for years to come.

By our estimate (December data are not yet in), the global average temperature departure for the year will be about 0.47C in the satellite data. This value is a whopping .32C above the old satellite record set in 1988. It is so high that it will undoubtedly be the starting point of a cooling trend for at least the next decade or so.

This turn of events should prove interesting.