“Oh, the weather outside is frightful ….”

OK, so there’s no snow in the immediate outlook, it being summer in the northern hemisphere, so forget about the let it snow, let it snow, let it snow refrain.

But for those finding solace, or political cover, in the cooler than usual early summer months throughout much of Northern America – we’re not talking you, Seattle and Portland and Pacific Northwest – some hard numbers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cast new light on the overall picture.

Keep in mind, here, the limited usefulness of even thinking about short-term or place-specific weather patterns when considering global climate change. That’s why they call it “global,” after all. That said, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, in Asheville, N.C., has some interesting things to say about July’s temperatures and such:

  • The planet’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for July, exceeding the previous high set in 1998.
  • Combined average global land and ocean surface temperatures for July 2009 rank fifth-warmest since world-wide records have been tracked in 1880 – 1.03 degrees F higher than the 20th century average of 60.4 degrees F.
  • Global land surface temperature for July 2009 was 0.92 degree F higher than the 20th century average of 57.8 degree F, tying this July with 2003’s as the ninth warmest July on record.
  • Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles in July, 12.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average and third lowest July sea ice on record, trailing 2007 and 2006.

The NOAA/NCDC website mentioned above contains a wealth of national and regional information – albeit still preliminary at this point. It’s a practical and authoritative way to put some meat on the bones of those discussions relating anecdotal impressions about the recent local weather and its often implied, but inevitably flawed, connection with a changing climate.