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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 4, NUMBER 3, MARCH 1991

NEWS...
1990 TEMPERATURE RECORD


Item #d91mar90

Three long-term temperature data sets indicate that 1990 was the warmest year on record. Two of them extend over 100 years and show that most of the six or seven warmest years have occurred since 1980. One is the record of land and ocean surface temperatures analyzed by British climatologists at the University of East Anglia and the Hadley Centre; the other is the land surface temperature record analyzed by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Science. The record was broken without the help of El Niño, which periodically raises global temperatures. However, 1991 is expected to be an El Niño year, prompting speculation about another record.

The third data set to show a record consists of radiosonde temperatures analyzed by James Angell of the NOAA in Silver Spring, Maryland, who also reports a record cooling in stratospheric temperatures, an outcome considered consistent with the greenhouse effect. None of the scientists involved view these results as proof of greenhouse warming, but Angell, so far a skeptic on the question, said he is "beginning to waver."

Science, p. 274, Jan. 18, 1991, discusses how the three-way record enabled James Hanson, Director of NASA-Goddard, to collect on a $100 bet with climatologist Hugh Ellsaesser that one of the first three years of the 1990s would be the warmest on record.

See also "Hot Year Prompts Greenhouse Concern," Sci. News, p. 36, Jan. 19; "Warmer Winters Fit Greenhouse Model," New Scientist, p. 186, Jan. 17.

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