GISS analysis of surface temperature change


  • J. Hansen,

  • R. Ruedy,

  • J. Glascoe,

  • M. Sato


We describe the current GISS analysis of surface temperature change for the period 1880–1999 based primarily on meteorological station measurements. The global surface temperature in 1998 was the warmest in the period of instrumental data. The rate of temperature change was higher in the past 25 years than at any previous time in the period of instrumental data. The warmth of 1998 was too large and pervasive to be fully accounted for by the recent El Nino. Despite cooling in the first half of 1999, we suggest that the mean global temperature, averaged over 2–3 years, has moved to a higher level, analogous to the increase that occurred in the late 1970s. Warming in the United States over the past 50 years has been smaller than in most of the world, and over that period there was a slight cooling trend in the eastern United States and the neighboring Atlantic Ocean. The spatial and temporal patterns of the temperature change suggest that more than one mechanism was involved in this regional cooling. The cooling trend in the United States, which began after the 1930s and is associated with ocean temperature change patterns, began to reverse after 1979. We suggest that further warming in the United States to a level rivaling the 1930s is likely in the next decade, but reliable prediction requires better understanding of decadal oscillations of ocean temperature.