NASA Animation Shows Relentless Pace of 60 Years of Global Warming in 15 Seconds

A 15-second NASA time-lapse video shows the steady and rapid warming of the planet since the middle of the twentieth century, with regions in the Arctic and Siberia warming as much as two to four degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7. 2 degrees Fahrenheit) above a long-term average:

The animation begins in 1950, but the intensity of the yellow, orange and red colors shows how much temperatures have increased compared to baseline temperature data collected from 1880 to the present.

NASA said that nine of the planet’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 2000, and worldwide surface temperatures continued to rise in 2013, according to satellite and meteorological data.

Since 1880, when atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide  (CO2) were 285 parts per million (ppm), the average global temperature has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit; atmospheric CO2 concentrations crossed a milestone of 400 ppm last year.

“Long-term trends in surface temperatures are unusual and 2013 adds to the evidence for ongoing climate change,” NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt said.

Does Polar Vortex Mean ‘So Much for Global Warming’?

Over the past couple of months, the U.S. has seen the return of something many believed had been lost for good: cold weather.

Although the current temperatures in the eastern U.S. may seem unusually cold, in the context of our history they really aren’t. In fact, most of the cold that has made the news lately hasn’t been all that chilly compared what was “normal” for the 20th century. The AP explained our short-term memory loss in this article, Scientists: Americans are becoming weather wimps, the nerdy web comic XKCD captured the sentiment even more concisely.

The bottom line? Because the last decade was the hottest on record (and just a year ago, the U.S. saw its warmest year ever) Americans have grown accustomed to warmer winters that make normal cold feel extreme.

Some then wonder why this winter has been so (normally) cold and why temperatures in Peoria this winter have not been warmed by climate change to, say, a balmy 60 degrees F. The climate denial bubble claims that the cold winter weather means that surely CO2 cannot be warming the atmosphere. How can there be global warming if it’s snowing outside, after all?

Well, the short answer is that cold winters still happen even in a warmed world, but that doesn’t mean it’s cold everywhere. In fact, we don’t even have to leave the U.S. to find a very striking image of warming. We just have to shift our attention from the East to the West Coast. Alaska, usually snowy and frigid, has had two weeks of record high temperatures. Amazingly, the second half of January has averaged 40 degrees F above normal during some days in the central and western parts of the state.