RSS Satellite data for Jan08: 2nd coldest January for the planet in 15 years

UPDATEsee new graph of global ∆T for the past year below. There has been a global drop in temperature of 0.63 degrees Centigrade in the past 12 months.

Of course we already have had a heads up from all the wire reports around the world talking about the significant winter weather events that have occurred worldwide in the last month, but until now, there hasn’t been a measure of how the planet was doing for the winter of 2007/2008.

Remote Sensing Systems of Santa Rosa just posted the latest MSU (Microwave Sounder Unit) data.

January posted a -.08°C near global anomaly between -70S and 82.5N latitude (the viewshed of the satellite sounder). That makes it the coldest month since January 2000, and the 2nd coldest January for the planet in 15 years. Both northern and southern hemispheres posted negative anomalies of -.120°C and -.038°C respectively, happening for the first time since January 2000.

The United States posted a -.557°C anomaly for January 2008 and a -0.196°C anomaly for December 2007.

Here is the raw anomaly data for January 2008

Year Month -70.0/  82.5 -20.0/  20.0 20.0/  82.5 -70.0/  -20.0   60.0/  82.5   -70.0/  -60.0  CONUS 0.0/  82.5 -70.0/  0.0
2008   1 -0.080 -0.188 -0.063 0.025 0.288 -0.833 -0.557 -0.120 -0.038

Which can be viewed in its entirety here (.txt data, RSS Data Version 3.1)

Here is my plot of the raw, unedited Global anomaly data (-70S to 82.5N) supplied by RSS per month. Note that the anomaly trend between late 2007 and early 2008 is quite steep and that the period leading  up to 2008 is relatively flat.


click for a larger image Note: RSS Data Version 3.1


I decided to plot a magnified graph to show the global change in temperature over the last year from January 2007 to January 2008, the ∆T of -0.629°C is quite significant for a 12 month period, rivaled in the last 10 years only by the 1998 El Nino warming peak.


Click for a larger image Note: RSS Data Version 3.1

Probable cause– [Una] Niña muy grande. It looks like we may have a PDO shift as well. But as some say, trying to correlate such things is a “fools errand”. But, judge for yourself.


click for a larger image

We live in interesting times.

(h/t MattN)


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[…] ’08 second coldest in 15 years Looks like Jan ’08 is the second coldest January in 15 years. Of course, if was the 2nd warmest in 15 years you would have read about it in the papers. Besides […]


One month of exceptionally cool temperatures does not say anything at all about climate change.
Looking at the graph it seems pretty clear that most rapid and exceptional changes in the temperature in either direction over the last thirty years have been quickly reversed. Is there any reason why that should not happen this time? Climate warming sceptics could be embarrassed if after trumpeting this cool month we have record warm months soon.
The hypothesis that global temperatures are still rising at getting on for 0.2 K a decade is well supported by the data, and it would take years rather than months of cooler temperatures to disprove it.
REPLY: I agree and point out to you that no where in the story does it say anything about it being significant to climate change, in fact the one connection made was to current weather events that have happened around the globe in the past month. The other biggest significance is it’s link to La Nina. Thats why the title above the La Nina SST anomaly picture says “Probable cause – Much Grande La Nina”.
I think you read something into the article that wasn’t there.


Wow. Info I provided started a new thread. I’m honored.
I would also like to point out that since Jan 07, the planet has cooled .63C. That is astounding. That is equivalent to the entire warming of the 20th century. Yes/No????
REPLY: Another good point, I think I’ll add that using a magnified graph.


Connecting the Spots?
What about the current solar minimum? Many scientist recognize the connection between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice age, but I haven’t seen much mention about a possible connection between the recent cooling trend and the fact that we have seen prolonged periods of zero sunspots since about April 07. We are long overdue for the start of Solar Cycle 24, and could there be a connection between what is happening on the Sun and what is happening with the climate on Earth?

Stan Needham

I realize that one year, or even one decade, do not a trend make, but I’ve got to ask the obvious question from a layman’s viewpoint: If global temperatures do indeed begin to trend downward while atmospheric concentrations of CO2 continue to increase — then what? At what point does the climate science community say, “hey, maybe we missed something.”
I realize that back in the 70’s there was not nearly the scientific “consensus” (geez, I hate that word) about cooling that there is now for warming. Nevertheless, there were actually scientists who suggested blanketing the Arctic with soot to increase melting of the ice cap. Probably a good thing that that idea never got any traction.

Though the data in the table are fine, do you care that your text is missing a decimal place: “-012°C” ?
REPLY: Yes I do, and it is fixed now, thanks for pointing it out.


If one looks at the chart which only goes back to 1979 and look at the temperature change by normalizing a line in it, we have only seen about .2C at MOST. Why then, all the alarmism? The problem is temperature data is presented in a fashion that makes average global temperatures look much greater than they are. If one plots them, you see they oscillate around 59 degrees for the most part and not varying more than 1 degree either way since 1850. It’s all about the scale of the chart being shown and the gullibility of those who want to believe something catastrophic is occurring. What this January data shows is not a trend to be sure but that the alarmists know less about how the climate works than they claim.


“Probably a good thing that that idea never got any traction.”
Ah, that brilliant idea wouldn’t have outlasted the first snow!
One of the big advantages of the current “yellow snow” issue (cf “brown cloud”), is that once the UDCs finally D, we’ll have clean air and the dirty snow will get covered up by the pristine version, and that will increase albedo.
(P.S., this suggestive message may get stuck in the Spam Filter. “Low $$$, No perscription necessary.”)

Jim Arndt

From the temperature map it appears that the PDO is negative and the positive AMO is weakening. We maybe are in for a few very cold winters. Especially considering that the sun continues to show weak activity levels.


Normally I look at Satellite data published by the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Titled “MONTHLY MEANS OF LOWER TROPOSPHERE LT5.2”
Your data is similar but not identical. I charted them against each other and the correlation was very good. Are they from different satellites? Is it different methodology or is it something else.
Sorry if I’m showing my ignorance.
REPLY: Different Methods. You aren’t ignorant, but inquisitive. Never be afraid to ask questions.

“It is straight out of the book of climate. The pattern is so much like the 1949-1950 La Nina, which was signaling the start of the reversal of the warming of the earth’s climate in the 1930s, ‘40s and early 50s. Only someone choosing to ignore it, or not wanting to see it, would not be cognizant of it. But because such a pattern leads to warmer than normal conditions in areas where the greatest centers of human induced global warming information comes out of, western Europe and the eastern part of North America, no attention is being called to the fact that the winter this year does have outstandingly large areas of colder than normal temperatures and in areas, the vast expanses of the tropical Pacific, and the vast expanse of the air above us.” — Joe Bastardi, Meteorologist
Anthony, thanks for proving Joe wrong that “no attention is being called to the fact that the winter this year does have outstandingly large areas of colder than normal temperatures”
John M Reynolds


Very steep drop. Biggest since 1992.
Also, what graph is this? The whole troposphere? Lower trop? Trep+upper strat?
REPLY: Description right above it, essentially Global -70S to 82.5N

Gary Gulrud

Bastardi at Accuweather pointed out in Dec. and has reprised that analysis at Icecap the other day that this is a very unusal La Nina, coming during late winter into early spring. Moreover, it is a very strong move at the very time a regime change is expected to negative PDO. Combined with other factors: the lowest Solar output in 2 centuries (with continued low output); crashing terrestrial albedo; and declining geomagnetic field we can expect more clouds, less solar flux, etc.
On top of that vulcanism is somewhat correlated with declining solar and geomagnetic field strength and the AMO would normally shift negative in about a decade.
Biofuels are a very bad bet just now. A mink farm might do better.
REPLY: I read the Bastardi artcile then and thought he was spot on, looks like he is being vindicated though some called his prediction “ridiculous”.

Jim B

The questions I have is when does Hansen’s GISS come out, and will it continue on it’s own “unique” direction, or will it finally start coming in line now that China has seen record cold across the board?
I also found this funny:
“One month of exceptionally cool temperatures does not say anything at all about climate change.” – I read it in one of the previous posts.
It made me nostalgic for 1998 when the massive short term warming was in the news everyday and I too stated the above fact. Well at least the media is listening now and completely ignoring this “short term” cooling trend.
/riddled with sarcasm

Yeah, this global warming is killing me. Also note snowfalls in CA
and north of there in Cascades. Keep up the good work!



[…] Oli viimase 15 aasta külmuselt teine jaanuar Posted on February 5, 2008 by erikpuura Mitte Eestis, vaid globaalselt. Sellest kirjutab Anthony Watts oma blogis. […]

We here in Estonia, Europe are facing one of the warmest winters after so many years. There has been no snow and almost all the time positive temperatures throughout January. This is why Your conclusions are most fascinating. Is it so that during this ‘cold period’ Gulf Stream is anomalously keeping Europe warm? Is there any logic in it? Also, comparing the graphs from Your previous post regarding Northern Hemisphere ice cover Feb 2 1980/2008, the Baltic Sea has no ice cover this year… We are feeling warm here but confused and your polar bear information + global temperatures has loosened our fears in front of global warming, as we care about the World. However, on the overall scale, it is understood that Estonia has more to win from global warming than to loose. Ridiculous, isn’t it?
Erik Puura, director, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, ESTONIA


“Very steep drop. Biggest since 1992.”
The drop in 1992 was Pinatubo, correct?
“One month of exceptionally cool temperatures does not say anything at all about climate change.”
You’re right, but that’s really not the point. The way I see it, the planet has cooled, we know exactly why it cooled, and we know exactly how much it cooled. If the ocean can cause a .6C drop of planet-wide temperature in 13 months, than it most assuredly can also cause a .6C rise over an entire century. And it has not one thing at all to do with CO2.
Remember: Natural variation cannot explain the unprecedented warming of the 20th century. Right…?


sorry, but in spanish it is “[Una] Niña muy grande” or (less common) “[Una] muy grande Niña”, mucho could be in: “mucho frío” (too much cold). but don’t worry is a mistake “muy” common in a english speaking person. good work, and i always read with placer your blog.
RESPUESTA: Gracias Jorge. He corregido el error. Los saludos, Anthony Watts

Is there a point to this post?

[…] The Western half of North America has just been through an exceedingly cold period – preliminary data show that January 08 was the coldest January in 15 years which is pretty cold. […]


Let’s not forget that it’s still +0.16 Kelvin from when the satellite measurements began in 1979! In January 1979, the global anomaly was -0.24 Kelvin. It’s only below normal relative to the 28+ year sample, which is probably biased warm due to the 1998 El Nino, which was a significant outlier. You can’t even call the recent cooldown an outlier because there’s been other cooldowns of similar magnitude (e.g. around 60, 120, and 170 months from 1979). Plus, it’s going to take more than a few months of cooling temperatures to draw any conclusions. If I were to fit a trendline to the data, it would probably run from about -0.2 Kelvin to +0.5 Kelvin, or an increase of about +0.7 Kelvin over 29 years. Seems like global warming is still occurring to me. Plus, we should probably wait until GISS, UKMET, and UAH estimates come out to see if they concur. RSS seems to be the coldest and GISS the warmest usually.
REPLY: The biggest problem is that we have no satellite data prior to 1979, and there was a PDO flip that occurred in 1977. There is speculation that there would be a strong negative anomaly prior to that. The UAH data will be interesting.

Jim Arndt

Evan you know what is kinda funny. If these trends continue and we start global cooling. We can say that Tamino is a global cooling denier, LOL. Just the thought of that was be priceless.


“Is there a point to this post?”
Was there a point to that post? (La Sombra sabe! )
To be clear, is that graph surface temperature or tropospheric?
And the result is that for the last few years before this current drop, we’ve been doing roughly 0.4 above the 1979 – date average with little change (“jig-jag flat”?).

Jim Arndt

Don’t get me wrong but I like warm weather. If we go into a Dalton type minimum we could see a little ice age. Our society and the world is not prepared for such an event. For 20 years we have been told to prepare for the Great Warming and if we instead go into a little ice age well, then its like going to a fire and finding a flood.


Of course the big emphasis Mr. Watts has placed in his report is on the recent 0.629 C drop since Jan 2007. However looking at the same plot for the past 350 months back to 1979 shows three other temperature drops that were even larger:
1) month 50 to month 70 with a temperature drop of 0.75C
2) month 106(?) to month 120(?) with another temperature drop of 0.75C
3) month 150 to month 162(?) with a 0.65C temperature drop
The point is over this period there have been larger temperature drops than the most recent one (0.629C) being emphasized and the fact is the overall temperature plot is still ascending. Placing a trendline along the minimums from month 70 to month 162 to the present (which by the fits the trendline perfectly) shows an increase of 0.18C/decade that has not been broken.
REPLY: All true, except the “big emphasis” part, that came second and is not the headline. But is what is also true is that since 1977, the PDO has been in a warm phase, so of course you’d expect a positive trend, but there are indications that it is shifting to cool phase. If that PDO shift holds, we may very well see a reversal.


You said : “One month of exceptionally cool temperatures does not say anything at all about climate change.”
But isn’t that what these scientists are doing, how long have we been monitoring temperatures and how many supposed billions years old is the planet?

Jim Arndt

Anthony, latest PDO number is -1.58, the coolest since 2000 -2.21, then 1991-1.65 (Pinatubo) and then 1972 -2.01

Gary Gulrud

erik puura: Anthony can correct me where I’m wrong but the warmth in Western Europe is expected with PDO negative and AMO positive. I believe D’Aleo and others had papers on this a month or so ago.
Tsonis had a paper in 2007 describing chaotic synchronies between the major oscillations (via teleconnections) that might help as well.
Your luck will very much change when the AMO goes negative in a decade or so and PDO is still negative.

Jim Arndt

“One month of exceptionally cool temperatures does not say anything at all about climate change.”
I think it is only fair that January 2008 get some press after all the attention December 2006 got. Example here:


Additional, erik puura, from what I hear the whole “gulf stream” theory is a myth:
But I don’t claim to know for sure, of course!

Lorenzo E. Danielsson

Somebody really needs to come and spend a little time in Ghana. Normally I’m not disturbed by the heat at this time of the year, but this year I am. Of course, I haven’t looked at any temperature data to see if it actually *is* hotter than usual, or if it’s just feels like it.

Robert in Calgary

Something else for poor Tamino to blow his top over.
REPLY: Tamino gets upset if the wind changes direction and somebody points it out in a graph. He also deletes a lot of comments like RC does, according to people that have related that to me. He deleted a comment I posted citing a solar paper for example.
He recently made a big row about the PDO correlation that Joe D’Aleo wrote up trying to use white noise as a demonstration of correlation (or lack of) but it’s like saying you can see pictures in the clouds. The point is, the kind of running average smoothing that has been done by Joe (11 year) is done by others (some passing peer review) as well, and nobody makes (except Tamino) a stink about it. I don’t have much respect for the guy because he hides behind a pseudonym like “Lagomorph Boy” does. I don’t get that. If you are a scientist, act like one instead of this hiding behind rocks and taking potshots.
Here’s a paper on PDO and Tree rings from Brazil, citing correlation, they use a 10 year running average.
N. R. Rigozo, D. J. R. Nordemann, L. E. A. Vieira and E. Echer
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais
They claim a 76% correlation of the variance in tree ring index was explained by solar activity and ENSO.

Stan Needham

And you continue to impress me, Evan. Most self-described Liberals I know buy into the static view of the economy hook, line & sinker. As you have so astutely noted in several recent posts, one of the primary solutions to many of mankind’s problems is the rapid accumulation of wealth by as many people as possible. Assuming, of course, that they then have the wisdom to use that wealth in a responsible way, as opposed to, say, lottery tickets, heh.

Stan Needham

Oops, sorry, posted that on the wrong thread.

John Danielson

I am new at this (blog stuff) and don’t know where to start. I am trying to make sense of the Global Warming – CO2 controversy. I have seen graphs of transmission/absorption of the atmosphere and the combination of water vapor and CO2 absorption seems to be about 100% (Wikipedia Global Warming article, for instance). If absorption of infra-red quanta in the CO2 “window” (absorption band) is about 100% already, how does adding more CO2 have any warming effect at all? Am I missing something or am I simply totally ignorant and naive?
I would appreciate any help I can get.
John Danielson


I will tell you the exact same thing I tell the others: Look beyond your back yard. See the big picture.
European ski resorts had the earliest opening and the most snow in decades. Brutal, and I mean BRUTAL cold in Siberia and Canada. Coldest winter in 100 years in China. Snow fell last month in Israel, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Freakin’ Arabia! Oh, and it snowed, again, last month in South America (middle of summer there).
Big. Picture.


Very nice. It shows globe can cool in a month, without reducing CO2 production.

That’s strange. NY’s January was balmy, even…

Tim Birkeland

We’re doomed! The ice age is coming. The facts are in, the time for discussion is over!


Posters over at dotearth are alredy citing this s/index.cfm?ID=6557&method=full
paper as proof that the current situation was predicted via GCM.
I didn’t read the paper that way; to me what it looked like was a shakedown cruise of a new GC model and they were tweaking data inputs to see if they could get it to hindcast better than their control. I’ll leave it to you folks who are brighter than me to decide if I read this right, but this doesn’t seem significant to me.
REPLY: the link doesn’t work that you provided


John Danielson, apparently becuase of complex atmospheric physics, which I don’t pretend to understand, the bands never quite reach saturation. At least, that’s what I heard. At any rate, most of the predicted increase in temperatures doesn’t come from the CO2 itself, but from feedbacks. As an example, if it warms up a little, there will be more evaporation, and thus more water vapor, which, as a greenhouse gas, alters the earth’s emmissivity and thus increases the temperature more. On the other hand, more water vapor probably also means more clouds, which alter the earth’s albedo, lessening warming, and its emmisivity, magnifying it. To my knowledge, no one has given a precise explanation of all the feedbacks that could or do exist and how they hypothetically could/do add up. My intuition (and I confess, little else) lead me to suspect the mostly cancel out, but presently the mainstream, “Consensus” veiw point is that they combine to a highly postive number. No one seems to have a engineering quality derivation of the response of the climate to increased CO2. Most explanations require handwaving, speculation, appeals to models etc. And without reliable proxies of past temperatures to test the estimated responses, and without precise knowledge of the earth’s past and present radiative energy budget, there’s still a lot of wiggle room.


Try this time
There was a space between r and s (making it “objecthandler_s”) that looks to be an artifact of how the copy/paste works. hopefully this works?
REPLY: Thanks for fixing that. It’s the CYA forecast model for the Hadley Centre, nothing new. Hadley blew 2007, and adjusted mid year. They missed the emerging La Nina (but originally forecasted a record year based on El Nino and “anthropogenic” factors) Originally they forecasted 2007 to be the warmest year on record, it turned out fifth with a hurricane season quietest since 1977 and 3rd quiet since 1958.
Hadley is even more out of touch with the surface record problems than GISS is.


Hello Timetochooseagain,
Very well said!
May I suggest that you’ve concisely and best summarized the take-home lesson of these very informative posts/threads of the last few days. Anyone with certainty at this point in time is jumping the gun, as far as this hombre can see at least.
I have sympathy for Policy-Makers.


That’s strange. NY’s January was balmy, even…
I’ll confirm that. I kept hearing about snow in odd places, but I think the’s been more snow in Saudi Arabia than in The City.


timetochooseagain: Good concatenation. One must consider that conditions have varied considerably (most of the time it’s a LOT cooler thx to Axial and orbital eccentricity), yet temps never spun out of control. Not a lot of people talk homeostasis. Lot of homeophobia goin’ on out there, I think!
“I have sympathy for Policy-Makers.”
Yes, it’s the amateurs who must decide. they are the jurors. The scientists are, in the end, merely the expert witnesses. I do wish they would realize that and stop talking down to us.
I study history. But I don’t go calling people who don’t know the subject idiots. I try to teach a piece of it to them and steer them where they can learn more if they choose. Too many genuinely talented scientists have a tendency to treat the interested amateur like something they scape off their shoes.