Really, we shouldn't be talking about heat in January but we're in the midst of another stretch of unusually warm weather. Temperatures were 15 degrees above normal over the weekend and at least that much again today (It's already 60 degrees at JFK!). If Gothamist has done our math correctly we will easily be the fourth warmest January on record and may squeeze by 1950 and 1990 to finish in second place. At two degrees warmer than any other January, 1932 will hold on to the top spot in the rankings. Rain moves in tonight and tomorrow looks soggy. It will be a little cooler but still well above average for the rest of the week. Can winter continue this warm? Only Staten Island Chuck knows for sure.
The world at large was also feeling the heat last year. According to an analysis by scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), located in Morningside Heights, the global surface temperature in 2005 was the highest it has ever been in more than a century of reliable global intrumental data. Because of uncertainties the temperature of 2005 wasn't statistically different from 1998, the previous warmest year. However 1998's heat was aided by extra surface warming from the strongest El Niño in the past century. The Earth's surface is almost 1.5 degrees warmer than a hundred years ago, with 75 percent of that warming occurring in the last thirty years.
The Times reported yesterday that James Hansen, the lead scientist of the global temperature analysis and the GISS Director, has been required by NASA officials to submit his upcoming speeches (link to pdf), papers, and interviews with journalists to review by public affairs staff. NASA officials claim that the restrictions placed on Hansen applied to all agency personnel. Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions.
2005 global temperature anomalies from NASA GISS