September 2017: Earth's 4th Warmest September on Record
By Dr. Jeff Masters
September 2017 was the planet's fourth warmest September since record keeping began in 1880, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA this week. The only warmer Septembers came during 2015, 2016 and 2014. Minor differences can occur between the NASA and NOAA rankings because of their different techniques for analyzing data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.
Global ocean temperatures last month were the fourth warmest on record for any September, according to NOAA, and global land temperatures were the third warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the warmest for any September in the 39-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).
(Above) Departure of temperature from average for September 2017, the fourth warmest September for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record warmth was observed across parts of central and southern Africa, southern Asia and scattered across the western, northern, and southern Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean (off the southeastern coast of South America), the Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea and Barents Sea, and across parts of the Indian Ocean. No land or ocean areas experienced record cold September temperatures. Photo credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
(Above) Departures from the 20th-century global average temperature for September, 1880-2017. The four warmest Septembers on record have all occurred in the last four years. Photo credit: NOAA / NCEI
Second-Warmest Year on Record Thus Far
Each of the first eight months of 2017 have ranked among the top four warmest such months on record, giving 2017 the second highest January–September temperature in the 138-year record: 0.78°C (1.57°F) above the 20th-century average. This is behind the record year of 2016 by 0.13°C (0.24°F). This near-record warmth in 2017 is especially remarkable given the lack of an El Niño event this year. Global temperatures tend to be warmer during El Niño years, when the ocean releases more heat to the atmosphere. Given the lack of an El Niño event in 2017, it is unlikely that we will surpass 2016 as the warmest year on record. However, 2017 is almost certain to be the planet's warmest year on record that lacks any influence from El Niño, and Earth's four warmest years of the last century-plus are likely to be 2016, 2017, 2015 and 2014.
Two Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in September 2017
Two Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes caused billion-dollar weather disasters last month, according to the September 2017 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield: Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Through the end of September, Earth had 21 billion-dollar weather events for the year, which is a typical number for this point in the year. The year that ended with the most billion-dollar weather disasters in records going back to 1990 was 2013, with 41; that year had 33 billion-dollar disasters by the end of September. Last year, there were 28 billion-dollar weather disasters by the end of September; that year ended up with 31 such disasters. Here are this year's billion-dollar weather disasters through the end of September:
- Hurricane Harvey, U.S., 8/25 – 9/2, >$20 billion, 60 killed
- Hurricane Irma, Caribbean, Bahamas, SE U.S., 9/5 – 9/12, >$30 billion, 124 killed
- Hurricane Maria, Caribbean, 9/18 – 9/21, >$20 billion, 78 killed
- Flooding, China, 6/22 – 7/5, $7.5 billion, 141 killed
- Flooding, China, 7/13 – 7/17, $4.5 billion, 20 killed
- Typhoon Hato, Macau, Hong Kong, China, 8/23 – 8/24, $3.5 billion, 22 killed
- Flooding, Peru, 1/1 – 4/1, $3.1 billion, 120 killed
- Severe Weather, Rockies, Plains, U.S., 5/8 – 5/11, $2.6 billion, 0 killed
- Drought, China, 5/1 – 8/31, $2.5 billion, 0 killed
- Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Australia, 3/27 – 4/5, $2.4 billion, 14 killed
- Drought, Italy, 1/1 – 7/31, $2.3 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, Plains, Southeast, Midwest U.S., 3/26 – 3/28, $2.3 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, Midwest, Plains, Southeast U.S., 3/6 – 3/10, $2.1 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, Midwest, Plains, Southeast MS Valley U.S., 4/28 – 5/01, $2.0 billion, 20 killed
- Drought, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, 1/1 – 3/31, $1.9 billion, hundreds killed
- Severe Weather, South U.S., 2/27 - 3/2, $1.9 billion, 4 killed
- Severe Weather, Midwest U.S., 6/11, $1.8 billion, 0 killed
- Severe Weather, South U.S., 1/18 - 1/23, $1.3 billion, 21 killed
- Tropical Storm Nanmadol, Japan, 7/4 – 7/6, $1.0 billion, 37 killed
- Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest, Northeast U.S., 6/27 – 6/30, $1.0 billion, 0 killed
- Winter Weather, Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast U.S., 3/13 – 3/15, $1.0 billion, 11 killed
55 – 65 Percent Chance of La Niña by Winter
In its October 12 monthly advisory, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) stated that neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present in the Eastern Pacific (ENSO-neutral conditions existed). Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific) were about 0.5°C below average over the past week; SSTs of 0.5°C or more below average in this region are required to be classified as weak La Niña conditions, with the 3-month average SSTs holding at these levels for five consecutive months (with an accompanying La Niña-like atmospheric response). Enhanced east-to-west blowing trade winds are predicted for the west-central Pacific over the next two weeks and these stronger-than-average trade winds will help the progression towards La Niña. NOAA forecasters gave a 55 - 65 percent chance of a La Niña event by winter, similar to the 55 – 60 percent odds given in their previous month's forecast.
(Above) Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific) were oscillating around 0.5°C below average for the first half of October, near the 0.5°C below average threshold for weak La Niña conditions. Photo credit: Levi Cowan, tropicaltidbits.com.
Arctic Sea Ice Extent the Seventh Lowest on Record for September
Arctic sea ice extent during September 2017 was the seventh lowest in the 38-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The Arctic was dominated by low pressure and clouds in the summer of 2017. The cyclonic (counterclockwise) winds associated with the stormy pattern also tend to spread out the sea ice. Together, this two influences brought slower ice loss than in the record-low extent years of 2012 and 2007. The Arctic reached its lowest extent for the year on Sept. 13, which was the eighth lowest extent on record. The five lowest Arctic sea ice extents were measured in September 2012, 2007, 2016, 2011 and 2015.
Antarctic Sea Ice Extent the Second Lowest on Record for September
Sea ice surrounding Antarctica had the second lowest extent on record in September 2017 and has been at record- to near-record lows since September 2016. A recent study by John Turner and colleagues links the recent Antarctic sea ice decline to a series of strong storms accompanied by long periods of warm winds from the north. These changing weather conditions are associated with large shifts in the Southern Annual Mode (SAM) index.
Notable Global Heat and Cold Marks Set for September 2017
- Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 50.3°C (122.5°F) at Mitribah, Kuwait, Sept. 3
- Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -37.0°C (-27.2°F) at Summit, Greenland, Sept. 3
- Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 42.8°C (109.0°F) at Birdsville, Australia, Sept. 27
- Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -78.3°C (-108.9°F) at Concordia, Antarctica, Sept. 2
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)
Major Weather Stations That Set (Not Tied) New All-Time Heat or Cold Records in September 2017
So far in 2017, 168 major weather stations have set records for the all-time highest temperature ever measured and 17 have set records for the all-time lowest temperature ever measured. Here are the records for September 2017:
- San Francisco (California) max. 41.1°C, Sep. 1
- Salinas (California) max. 42.8°C, Sept. 2
- Palo Alto (California) max. 42.2°C, Sept. 2
- San Luis Obispo (California) max. 46.1°C, Sept. 2
- King City (California) max. 46.1°C, Sept. 2
- Santa Cruz (California) max. 43.3°C, Sept. 2
- Conceicao do Araguaia (Brazil) max. 41.5°C, Sept. 19
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)
No All-Time National Heat Records Set or Tied in September 2017
No all-time national heat records were set or tied in September 2017. As of October 17, thirteen nations have set or tied all-time national heat records in 2017 and two have set or tied all-time cold records. National all-time monthly temperature records so far in 2017 have numbered 44 for maximum temperature and two for minimum temperature. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. I use as my source for international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world's top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records.
All-Time National Heat Records Set or Tied in 2017:
- Macau: 102.2°F (39.0°C) at Ka Ho, Coloane Island, Aug. 22 (tie)
- Hong Kong: 102.2°F (39.0°C) at Wetland Park, Aug. 22
- San Marino: 104.5°F (40.3°C), at Serravalle, Aug. 3 and 9
- Vatican City: 105.3°F (40.7°C) at Roma Macao AWS, Aug. 2 (tie)
- United Arab Emirates: 125.2°F (51.8°C), at Mezaira, July 30
- Spain: 117.1°F (47.3°C), at Montoro AEMET, July 13
- Iran: 128.7°F (53.7°C), at Ahwaz, June 29
- Oman: 123.4°F (50.8°C), at Qurayyat on May 30 and at Joba on May 31 (tie)
- Pakistan: 128.3°F (53.5°C), at Turbat on May 28 (tie)
- Guinea: 113°F (45.0°C), at Koundara, March 29 (tie)
- Ghana: 110.8°F (43.8°C), at Navrongo, March 26
- Chile: 113°F (45.0°C), at Cauquenes, Jan. 26
- Cocos Islands (Australia): 91.0°F (32.8°C), at Cocos Island Airport, Feb. 23 (tie with April 8, 2015 and April 11, 1998)
All-Time National Cold Records Set in 2017:
- United Arab Emirates: 22.3°F (-5.4°C) at Jabel Jais, Feb. 3
- Qatar: 34.7°F (1.5°C) at Abu Samra, Feb. 5
National Monthly Maximum Temperature Records Tied or Beaten in 2017 (44):
- Jan: Comoros, Uganda, Singapore, Mexico
- Feb: Iceland
- Mar: Kenya, Indonesia, Spain, Chile, Cook Islands
- Apr: Ghana, Wallis and Futuna, Honduras, Samoa, Uganda, Pakistan, Cabo Verde, UAE
- May: Greece, Iran, Norway, Austria
- June: Mexico, Oman, Iraq, Turkey, Albania, Portugal, UAE
- July: Cyprus, Comoros, Mayotte, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Niger
- August: Iran, UAE, Trinidad and Tobago, U.S., French Guiana
- September: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iceland
- October: Portugal
National Monthly Minimum Temperature Records Set in 2017 (2):
- Jan: St. Eustatius
- July: Greenland
Other Records Set in 2017:
- World record of highest minimum temperature for March: 35.6°C at Yelimane, Mali, March 31
- Asian record of highest temperature ever recorded in April: 50.0°C at Larkana, Pakistan, April 19
- World record of highest temperature ever recorded in May (tied): 53.5°C at Turbat, Pakistan, May 28
- Asian record of highest temperature ever recorded in June: 53.7°C at Ahwaz, Iran, June 29
- Northern Hemisphere record of lowest temperature ever recorded in July: -33.0°C at Summit, Greenland, July 4
Reposted with permission from our media associate Weather Underground.
By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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