Scientists predict warmer 2012

Tuesday 10th Jan 2012 by theWeather Club

It seems that the long term forecast is back on the menu, but not quite of the ‘barbecue summer’ type. Using data from the Hadley Centre Climate Research Unit’s third dataset (HadCRUT3), the Met Office is predicting a warm year for the planet as a whole.

Adam Scaife, head of monthly to decadal forecasting at the Met Office said: “While 2010 was a record warm year, in 2011 we saw a very strong La Niña which can temporarily cool global temperatures.”

The Met Office’s annual global temperature forecast expects 2012 to be around 0.48°C warmer than the long-term global average of 14.0°C. Their predictions actually show a likely range of somewhere between 0.34°C and 0.62°C over the year. If the final temperature average falls somewhere in the middle of this range, 2012 would be one of the 10 warmest years in a series of measurements going back to 1850.

The Met Office prediction follows provisional figures published by themselves and the University of East Anglia, which showed that 2011 saw temperatures which were 0.36°C above the long term average. That places it as the 11th warmest year on record in the HadCRUT3 temperature dataset. At the same time the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published a global average temperature increase of 0.41°C based on an average of the three international global average temperature datasets - HadCRUT3, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data centre (NOAA NCDC) and NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies (NASA GISS).

The global average temperature value from Met Office and the WMO figures fell within the range predicted by the Met Office for 2011, which predicted that last year was unlikely to be a record year for temperatures. However 2012 could be different, especially if the final temperature rise ends up in the higher reaches of the prediction range. The reason for this is the behaviour of an old meteorological friend.

“The La Niña has returned,” Adam Scaife says, “and although it is not as strong as early last year, it is still expected to influence temperatures in the year ahead. Therefore we expect 2012 to be slightly warmer than last year but not as warm as 2010.”