Monday, February 23, 2015

Cold and Snow Steal Headlines but we are Still Warming

While it may seem as though the US is enduring a record cold winter it is actually quite warm. We have witnessed record breaking snowfalls and parts of the North East are indeed colder than usual. The US is still in the grips of global warming and record snowfalls are consistent with climate change particularly in the Northeast.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, the period from December 2014 to January 2015 is the sixth hottest ever recorded for the contiguous US. Globally the month of January was the second hottest on record.

In California temperatures have been more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Across the country record high temperatures have been equaled or broken three and a half thousand times in January. There have been even more record breaking high temperatures in the month of February.

USA Today quotes the NRDC as saying there have been 4,074 record high temperatures logged in the US in the first half of February alone.

Cold temperatures are entirely consistent with climate change. Increasing levels of atmospheric carbon are changing the balance of naturally occurring weather systems. This can lead to periods of extreme cold weather.

However, periods of cold weather in some parts of the US does not alter the overall warming trend. Both nationally and globally temperatures are increasing. The key is to appreciate the difference between weather and climate. Overall temperatures continue to rise and we are experiencing far more record heat waves than cold.

There is a clear trend that is emerging over time. Last year 2014 is the hottest to date and nine of the 10 hottest years on record have come since 2000.

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