RSS Global Lower Troposphere Temperature Data for 2016 Confirm Results from UAH

That is, for 2016, the Temperatures of Earth’s Atmosphere Nearest to Its Surface Were an Insignificant 0.02 Deg C Higher than the Previous El Niño-Related High in 1998.

Earlier this week, Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) announced the annual lower troposphere temperature anomalies for the year 2016. See his post Global Satellites: 2016 not Statistically Warmer than 1998.  Bottom line:  The UAH global lower troposphere temperature anomaly for 2016 (an strong El Niño-decay year) was only 0.02 deg C (that’s read 2 one-hundredths of one degree Celsius) higher than in 1998, another strong El Niño-decay year with the previous highest value.  See Figure 1. (Monthly data here.)


Figure 1

With much less fanfare, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) released their results for December 2016 yesterday.  After converting the monthly data to annual anomalies, we can see that RSS lower troposphere temperature anomalies had similar results.  That is, they too showed the RSS global lower troposphere temperature anomaly for 2016 was only 0.02 deg C higher than in 1998. (Monthly data here.) See Figure 2.


Figure 2

Curiously, in a comparison of two comparably strong El Niño events, even though global lower troposphere temperature anomalies were much lower in 1997 than in 2015 (the El Niño evolution years), they were remarkably similar during the years of 1998 and 2016 (the El Niño decay years). See Figure 3. In other words, the uptick from 2015 to 2016 was much less than the rise from 1997 to 1998, suggesting that the 2015/16 El Niño was weaker than the 1997/98 El Niño.


Figure 3

Another curiosity: the December 2016 and December 1998 values are remarkably similar.

What’ll happen in 2017?


Figure 4

Global lower troposphere temperature anomalies should be lower in 2017 than in 2016 due to the lagged global temperature response to the decay of the 2015/16 El Nino, but the drop will likely not be as significant as the one that happened from 1998 to 1999. Why?  See Figure 4.  There was a moderately strong La Niña in 1998/99, where weak La Niña to ENSO-neutral conditions exist now.

About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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8 Responses to RSS Global Lower Troposphere Temperature Data for 2016 Confirm Results from UAH

  1. Wim Röst says:

    Bob, do you know whether there was a “Blue Blob” or “Cold Blob” in the Northern Pacific in 1998 as there is now?

    This Blue Blob may make a difference. It developed in the autumn when the sun on that latitude already was low. It probably stays all winter. A very long period it can cool the atmosphere and influence weather patterns without absorbing much sun energy into the ocean, like the La Nina blue ocean pattern at the equator does do. Therefore the long term result on the atmospheric temperatures of this ‘blue one’ will be different of La Nina’s’, I suppose.

    When the Blue Blob did not exist in 1998, the effect of the present one on Low and High Pressure area’s in 2017 in the Northern Pacific will lead to a pattern that is different from 1999. With a different weather as a consequence and a different development of temperatures of the atmosphere. I suppose.

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    RSS and UAH agree: global temperature and 2016 and 1998 were essentially same. 1998 was the last year with a big El Niño spike.

  3. Frank says:

    Bob: It is assuming to note that 97/98 El Nino is now in the middle of the UAH/RSS satellite period and therefore contributes almost nothing to the overall trend. (It does increase the confidence interval of that trend, because the mathematics accounts for the possibility of random deviations from the trend this large occurring at any time in either direction.

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    Wim Röst, the Blue Ribbon (stretching across the extratropical North Pacific) did not exist at this time of year following the 1997/98 El Nino.

    It will be interesting to follow its progress…if it remains.

  5. Wim Röst says:

    Thanks for the map Bob. Interesting to see the differences with the present situation. My idea is that the colder area’s reflect area’s connected to extra wind stress resulting in [deep] mixing and/or upwelling. Cooling the surface waters. The present anomalous cold band on the SH around 40S seems to reflect the band of very active depressions (high windstress) at that latitude last year.

    I thought to see the same when in autumn at the East of Siberia (Sea of Ochotsk) the very strong eastward winds up there were the cause of a lot of upwelling (my guess), in the end resulting in the cold ‘Blue Ribbon’ as you called it.

    As sea temperatures [partly] are dependent on the atmosphere, my idea is that this is mostly because of deep mixing / not mixing resp. upwelling because of changing wind stress.

    Although time lags will play a role, I think It would be interesting to see the maps for wind stress anomaly for autumn 1998 and autumn 2016 too.

  6. Juho says:

    RSS claims thet their .v3.3 TLT data has a cooling data and is a subject to future adjustments in .v4.0. What do you think about this Bob?

  7. Bob Tisdale says:

    Juho, when RSS releases their new v4.0 TLT data, I’ll be able to discuss it. Until then, it’s only speculation.


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