I found this graph on Dr. Roy Spencer’s blog today:
It was accompanied by a very brief post that posed the question “Bottom Falling Out of Global Ocean Surface Temperatures?” but provided almost no context. So I’ve taken it upon myself to add some. First and foremost, this does not contradict global warming.
Indeed, many parts of the world’s oceans – like the North Atlantic – have been much warmer than usual this year. As Andy Freedman explains, these seemingly contradictory conditions are a symptom of a moderate to strong La ninã event that may have been the only thing keeping 2010 from even more record-setting heat:
The chief hallmark of La Nina is a region of cooler-than-average water temperatures in the central to eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, extending down along the northwest coast of South America. The cooler waters and associated changes in airflow and precipitation patterns can significantly impact the world’s weather. La Nina can even cause a dip in global average temperatures, and the current event may keep 2010 from becoming the hottest year in the surface temperature record.