2009: The Heat Is On

NASA predicts 2009 could bring record high temperatures
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NASA predicts 2009 could bring record high temperatures

Break out the short-shorts: NASA's Goddard Space Center predicts 2009 will be a hot one—maybe the hottest year on record. But the record probably won't last: This year's potential for becoming the hottest year ever will likely get beaten first by 2010, then 2011, and on down the line.

Climate change skeptics will note that 2008 was the coldest year on record since 2009, but before you get all huffy, NASA can explain why last year unexpectedly chilled out, and why the cold spell will end in 2009.

1) The cyclical cold ocean current La Nina kept 2008 cooler, and should end before it can affect global temperatures this year.

2)Volcanic particles in the air help block sunlight and keep last year cold; they are expected to be washed out of the sky this winter.

3) The sun's strength should increase as it ends a "long minimum" period going into 2009.

4) Greenhouse gases are still on the increase, which will trap even more heat than it did the previous year.

OK, climate-change skeptics and believers—NASA has spoken. Have at it in the comments section below. As for me, I'm putting on my Speedo, shades, and heading for the beach.

—Ted Alvarez

GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (NASA)

Via Scholars & Rogues