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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Exclusive: 2009 Hottest Year on Record in Southern Hemisphere
13 January 2010 (All day)
The United States may be experiencing one of the coldest winters in decades, but things continue to heat up in the Southern Hemisphere. Science has obtained exclusive data from NASA that indicates that 2009 was the hottest year on record south of the Equator. The find adds to multiple lines of evidence showing that the 2000s were the warmest decade in the modern instrumental record.
Southern Hemisphere temperatures can serve as a trailing indicator of global warming, says NASA mathematician Reto Ruedy of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, given that that part of the globe is mostly water, which warms more slowly and with less variability than land. Ruedy says 2009 temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere were 0.49°C warmer than the period between 1951 and 1980, with an error of +/- 0.05°C.
That makes 2009 the warmest year on record in that hemisphere. That's significant because the second-warmest year, 1998, saw the most severe recorded instance in the 20th century of El Niño, a cyclic warming event in the tropical Pacific. During El Niño events, heat is redistributed from deep water to the surface, which raises ocean temperatures and has widespread climatic effects. But last year was an El Niño year of medium strength, which Ruedy says might mean that the warmer temperatures also show global, long-term warming as well as the regional trend.
The data come a month after announcements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and by the World Meterological Organization that the decade of the 2000s was warmer than the 1990s. (NOAA estimates that the decade was 0.54°C warmer than the 20th century average. The 1990s, by comparison, was 0.36°C warmer by their measure.)
Meanwhile, NOAA is expected to announce possible record highs in the tropics when it releases its final report on 2009 temperatures on Friday. "This is one of the coldest winters we've experienced in a while up here in the northern latitudes," says Derek Arndt of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. "But we're piling up a lot of heat in the tropics."