The Texas state climatologist — the top climate official in one of the most conservative states in the country — has predicted that this year probably will be the warmest on record.

In his periodic report on Texas weather and crops released this week, Texas A&M University atmospheric scientist John Nielsen-Gammon said:

Global temperatures have been relatively flat for the past several years. Some people use that information to try to imply that global warming has stopped. But it turns out that the factors causing global warming are still there, it’s just that the El Niño-La Niña cycle has temporarily trended cooler and has partially masked the warming. In the tropical Pacific, there’s actually fairly cold water just below the surface. With a La Niña event, that cold water is drawn all the way up to the surface, and interacts with the atmosphere and causes it to be cooler. If you leave the refrigerator door open, the room will be a little cooler. If my forecast is correct, and there’s no La Niña to hide the underlying warming trend, global surface temperatures are likely to increase and set a new record this year.

He may well be right.

A quick check of the 10 warmest years on record, based upon data going back to 1880, shows that 2010 was the warmest year on record, followed by 2005. Last year was the 10th warmest.

The last two years, as shown in the chart below, were La Nina years so we would expect them to be a bit cooler. The most recent El Nino year, 2010, was the warmest overall year on record.

Global Temps

This year most dynamical forecast models suggest conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean where these patterns occur will be neutral, and thus no El Nino or La Nina is likely to form. If this is indeed the case then there’s a good chance this year could rival 2010 as the warmest on record.

The significance of this prediction is that it’s coming from Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by George W. Bush back in 2000 when he was still the governor. He has continued to serve under Gov. Rick Perry for the last 12 years.

I have the highest regard for Nielsen-Gammon, who has won numerous awards for his work and has been an exceptional climatologist in both providing data and public information about his work. He is well regarded among both climate scientists and those who are skeptical about climate change because he does not hold “radical” or “alarmist” views.

In short, he has been a voice of reason. And now he has given us reason to be concerned.

This article was written by Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle.  The original story can be found at this link: