RSS data: 2010 not the warmest year in satellite record, but a close second

NOTE: A second graph has been added. See below.

The RSS data for Dec 2010 is out and available here, and I’m second in publishing it. The honor for being first goes to Lucia at the Blackboard here.

I used the same RSS lower troposphere data, but used a different plotting program than she did, Dplot, which provides for an automatically generated moving average. She computed the annual average as the average over Jan-Dec of each year and plotted each annual average, where I used a built in moving average generator in Dplot, set the moving average generator interval to 12 months, and came up with similar results as she did. The annotated plot is below:

click to enlarge

2010’s end moving 12 month average is .510°C at month 383 (Dec. 2010) The peak 12 month moving average value is .550°C at month 239, just after the red 1998 El Niño spike. So by the RSS satellite data, 2010 has not exceeded 1998. Lucia comes to the same conclusion: 2010 is not warmer than 1998, but is a close second. There’s still other year end data sets to be published. I would expect Dr. Roy Spencer to publish UAH soon and we’ll have that also.

Here’s the output from the Dplot program for the two curves above:

Curve 1 – Monthly Anomaly

Minimum = -0.458 at X = 68

Maximum = 0.858 at X = 231

Max – Min = 1.316

Mean = 0.09933333

Standard deviation = 0.2288476

Standard error = 0.1725063

Curve 2 – Moving average (prior), interval=12

Minimum = -0.2989167 at X = 79

Maximum = 0.5506667 at X = 239

Max – Min = 0.8495833

Mean = 0.09812891

Standard deviation = 0.1940199

Standard error = 0.1301371

The peak global monthly temperature anomaly in 1998 was .858°C while in 2010, the peak global monthly temperature anomaly was 0.652°C

Also, the December 2010 value at 0.251°C is down significantly from the peak value of 2010 which was 0.652°C in March. What a difference El Niño to La Niña makes.

UPDATE: I had some time later today after a busy post holiday Monday, so I decided to update this post. To better match the UAH data published today, which uses a 13 month moving central average, I’ve added this annotated plot:

click to enlarge

Here’s the output from the Dplot program:

Curve 1 – Monthly Anomaly

Minimum = -0.458 at X = 68

Maximum = 0.858 at X = 231

Max – Min = 1.316

Mean = 0.09933333

Standard deviation = 0.2288476

Curve 2 – Moving average (central), interval=13

Minimum = -0.2908462 at X = 74

Maximum = 0.5316154 at X = 233

Max – Min = 0.8224615

Mean = 0.09751444

Standard deviation = 0.191728

The results are slightly different, and the conclusion remains unchanged. The central moving average is a more correctly representative since it encompasses the entire year, where a lagged average needs to additional data points into 2011 to properly show 2010.

The peaks of the 13 month central average are:

.531 month 233 (1998)

.507 month 374 (2010)


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Well in the UK we’ve had the coldest year since the mid 1980’s.
In fact the average temperature has been in decline since April 2007 in the UK.
December was the coldest recorded since the UK national record started in 1910 and in London it was the coldest December since 1890 😮
What is of interest is that CET has been cold in the 2nd hottest satellite recorded year, so was the earth hotter when CET was recording cold in the past?
Unfortunately CET is the oldest record so we will never know, but on the second hottest year you’d expect CET to correlate.


I bet this data set will not reach MSM. It is up to us to post in on numerous sites.

Adam Gallon

12 years and no measurable increase in temperature?
That’s going to take some spinning.


That’s a hell of a big drop in December. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue to fall off the cliff.

richard verney

No doubt the warmists will be trumpeting the 2010 figure and claiming that global warming has not gone away.
It will now be interesting to see how temperatures pan out during the early to mid part of 2011 and to compare these with 1999.

Certainly not the warmest here in Western Washington. We’ve been running 10+ degrees F below average now and most of 2010.


The alarmists have already written their headlines “2010 the _______ Warmest Year on Record” Fill in the blank.

In December 1998 temperature at El Niño 1+2 are was above 28 deg.Celsius, in 2010 it is around 22. That graph it is as true as the hockey stick. But the question is: Will your EPA punish YOU because of this?. You must know that these lies won’t affect anyone else in the whole world but you.


This can’t be right, I mean Al Gore and his buddies won’t let it be…

And the nonsensical claims that the rise in Global TLT anomalies are the result of AGW shall commence.


Can you explain what is meant by “warmest year”? Does that mean the greatest imbalance between energy received and energy radiated to space, or the year with the greatest amount of energy held in the atmosphere globally, or the year with the most days with average global temperatures above some value, or? In a year where the oceans are spewing stored energy into the atmosphere I’d kind of expect to see some warming, but I’d also expect it wouldn’t last long.


There does appear to be some global cooling underway based on ocean surface temperature delta over average. It will be interesting to see what the planetary average will be for 2011 and how the AGW aficionados explain a cooling planet.

Vince Causey

Well that settles the RSS data. I wonder how the GISS pans out?




No doubt about it. It was almost worse than we thought. A few one hundredths of a degree would have tipped us into an inferno. Just be thankful for our moral and intellectual superiors in the Gaia movement climatology sciences for having clearly foretold of this near apocalypse. We must heed their warnings and do everything in our power to stop the climate from changing! Look what happened to the dinosaurs! They just wouldn’t listen, now look where they are…
Seriously though, I hope you had a pleasant respite Mr Watts.


On another site I lurked and overheard an Alarmist inform someone that 2010 was warmest, “because a meteorological year runs from November to November; everyone knows that; it’s always been that way.”

John Peter

The latest AMSU-A near surface layer difference on 28 Dec. between 2009 and 2010 is no less than 0.49 degrees C. That is some plunge and could well herald a colder 2011 compared to 2010. The fall starts after 25 December so it could also be a malfunction, not corrected because of holidays.


Will we see all the watermelon scientists publicly retract all their comments about the “new warmest year”. Very much doubt it, they knew the way things were going which why they got the comment out early. Despicable.


According to Hansen’s 1988 testimony to Congress and the paper that preceded it, aren’t we supposed to be well over 1°C warmer than the late 20-th Century benchmark with an ice-free Arctic passage? Is there any statistical significance to a prediction that is off by factors of 3x, 4x, even 5x?

The press will wait until GISS comes out with their result and then vent on and on about the hottest year ever. But in the end, we are only talking about a few hundreths of a degree.


Now the question will be, “How low can it go?” Some models show the La Nina hanging tough clear through into 2012. The moving average might drop below zero.


Anthony, do the RSS satellites measure the temperatures in the polar regions, and if they don’t is that significant?
REPLY: -70 to 82.5 North


I think it’s better to center the moving average value on the midpoint of the range rather than at the end of the period. The 6-month offset is incorrect information.


Just to be precise,
would you make it a point to label the MSU plots with the
particular channel analysis?
In this case the ‘LT’ or ‘Lower Troposphere’ analysis.
The MT ( Middle Troposphere ) of course has a significantly different
trend ( over the MSU era ).
The MT is also not a multi channel analysis as the LT is.
Further, the MT roughly corresponds to the height of the
erroneously modeled tropical upper troposhperic hot spot.
While 2010 indicated a second most warm calendar year for the MT as well,
the MSU era trend from RSS is about 0.53 C per century.
That is a rate lower than not only the surface and LT analyses, but lower than the
IPCC significance level.


ahh … but those figures are surely unadjusted figures? 😉


Can somebody work out how to move some of this excess warmth to where people actually live? Last winter was cold, spring was a chilly washout, summer nothing special with occasional frosts, the autumn wet again, and now the winter is freezing cold again.

I’m surprised how fast it cooled from earlier highs in the year! It seemed the NH had to drop like a stone to make the mean less than 1998. Continuously amazed just how dynamic the system is sometimes.


Well I’m surprised that 2010 is as high as ‘second hottest year’, according to RSS!
Perhaps the algorithms which produce the temperature anomalies from the instrument readings don’t cope well with all the extra cloud and snow cover seen during 2010 – WUWT?


Just give it a couple of years…. 2010 will get warmer.
1998 will likely also retroactively cool.

John McManus

Mr. Felton:
Nova Scotia has been unusually warm through the 2009/2010 winter, the 2010 spring, the 2010 summer, the 2010 fall and the first 2 weeks of this winter. Today it’s 38F, yesterday was 46F etc.
Guess what ; people live here. Not superior people of course, but people.

geronimo says: “Anthony, do the RSS satellites measure the temperatures in the polar regions, and if they don’t is that significant?”
The RSS presents TLT data from 70S to 82N, so they basically have the Arctic covered. (The latitudes north of 82N represent less than 1% of the global surface area, if memory serves.) There is Antarctic TLT data south of 70S, but RSS elects not to publish it due to the elevation of much of Antarctica. And since the UAH TLT anomalies for the Antarctic have a negative trend, it’s exclusion by RSS could only lead to a positive bias.

Caleb says: “On another site I lurked and overheard an Alarmist inform someone that 2010 was warmest, ‘because a meteorological year runs from November to November; everyone knows that; it’s always been that way.'”
Two Novembers in one year? He must like Novembers.

It certainly is an interesting graph. For some reason I never noticed that the amplitude/length of the oscillations in the 2000’s was much smaller than the rest of the record. It looks like we may be moving back into the previous pattern though.


Like Mr. Mann, I viewed some tree rings from Douglas fir I converted to fire wood (last October). The trees were approximately 70 years old in a remote area (very remote). Interestingly, the younger growth rings for the past 12 years were significantly thinner by at least 1/2 those previous growth rings. The data has now been modified to ashes, never the less, take my work seriously, both the trees and I paid a price to once and for all end the argument: Those trees are (were) definitely deniers.

geronimo says:
January 3, 2011 at 8:17 am
Anthony, do the RSS satellites measure the temperatures in the polar regions, and if they don’t is that significant?
REPLY: -70 to 82.5 North>>
Significance is relative. On the one hand, we don’t much live in those zones, very little does, its just too cold to support life, travel through it, work in it, so who cares? Let’s focus on the parts of the planet that make a difference to us.
On the other hand, since the amount of energy flux required to cause a temperature change of (for example) one degree is much lower at cold temperatures than at high temperatures, we would expect that any fluctuations in earth temperatures will be much larger (both up and down) for any given time period in the coldest parts of the planet. Since GISS uses land based data and is just fine with a single weather station in the antarctic representing a 1200km radius, I’m sure they’ll have different results as a consequence. Well, unless of course they show even more cooling. In which case they’ll most likely declare a 1200 km radius from one weather station to be rediculous and eliminate it. Or adjust it. Or adjust everything except it downward first. Or just print a graph without saying where the data came from. Or substitute the temperature data with tree rings. From Siberia. Air freighted to the Antarctic and left to stand for one day to acclimatize, then cored, all 300 of them, the ones that are wrong burnt, and the 2 or 3 that have data that is RIGHT added to the temperature record. Its standard science to selectively choose data and splice different data together like that, the scientists said so at the climategate inquiries. I think they can also go the other way, which is to keep the wrong data, but flip it upside down. I know that one’s accepted because when they’re caught they just go “so?” and keep using it.
What was the question again?

TFN Johnson

Nigel (or ‘Lord’, if you prefer) Lawson has pointed out that if world population had stopped rising in 1995, and been constant for 15 years, there would heaps of comment in the MSM.
The actual point about all this ranking of 2010is that the AGW camp were forecasting a continued rise from 1995, and this has not happened. If a scientific theory makes untrue predictions it should be junked. Period.

Fred from Canuckistan

The 5 Freeway in LA a major north/south freeway, was closed because of snow squalls last night/today . . . snowing in Los Angeles.
More Global Warming proof.


Tamino is pushing GISS pretty hard. I’m sure celebrations are in order over there. The Year 2010 was the hottest year since the Battle of Hastings! Oh Happy Day!

For all you solar enthusiasts, here is what you get when you add the sunspot to the graph:
[Thank you for the feedback. Robt]


Still, the hottest year on record doesn’t belong to this millennium, but the previous one.

Craig Moore

I wonder what the record would look like if the highest and lowest months were excluded from the averages.

John F. Hultquist

Luboš Motl on ‘the reference frame’ post the same result.

Arfur Bryant

@ Adam Gallon – January 3, 2011 at 7:17 am
My favourite guesses for the ‘spinning’ are:
“The warming is in the post…”
“It’s natural variation…”
“12 years is far too short to draw any conclusion…”
“Our computer models show close agreement with, er… something…”
“What do you know? We’re climate scientists…”


Two things. First off, with a strong El Nino, and all that nasty CO2 added to the atmosphere, shouldn’t this year easily have been hotter than 1998?
Second thing. Are these temperature anomolies being caused by higher highs, or lower lows, or some unknowable combination? When I plot local temps, I come up with a higher avg, but, actually, lower high temps. Nearly all the movement in the avg is on the low side.

P Wilson

the second hottest year in history (utter bs).
But even if it was the 2nd hottest year, were there any climate catastrophes associated with it?

So the average went from around 0°C anomaly in the 1980-1997 period to +0.25°C in the last decade. Given the error bars that means nothing. So Dec 2010 was the 2nd largest non-blip in the last 3 decades???? Given annual, seasonal, and daily temp ranges, this is nothing.
Where’s the microscopic alarm bell we should ring?

Leif Svalgaard says:
January 3, 2011 at 9:18 am
For all you solar enthusiasts, here is what you get when you add the sunspot to the graph:
And for solar magnetic field enthusiasts I have added [green] the Heliospheric Magnetic Field [measured at Earth].

John Mason

Jeroen says:
January 3, 2011 at 7:14 am
“I bet this data set will not reach MSM. It is up to us to post in on numerous sites.”
….. I’m quite happy to post on my next blog that it was the coldest UK December for 120 years. What’s the bother? It was. The air came straight down off the North Pole to us. It was extremely cold. You are not by any chance hoping to create a false impression of temperatures elsewhere – are you???
“up to us to post it on numerous sites”, eh? A call to the ranks, eh? Hey – I’ll save you the job, but I will continue to explore science and not muppetish propaganda.
Cheers – John


The temperatures in the canadian arctic have been between ten and twenty degrees warmer than average in december and still are.

Patrick Davis

Well, its the 4th Jan 2011 (Where I am ) and, so far, I’ve not heard the screams from the MSM that 2010 was “the hottest ever”. So, I guess, those powers that be are trying to spin it…with the NH as it is I suspect 2010 won’t be reported as the “hottest” on record somehow.
Oh hang on. Is that a DC9/10 in the sky?