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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

March 2012’s US Temperature Records

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The records really rolled in last week throughout the eastern US.  Daily temperature records are normally broken by a degree or two at stations that have existed for 100 years or so.  What made last week special?  Daily record temperature maxima were broken by 20, 30, even 40 degrees F – at stations that have existed for a long time!  These types of events simply do not happen given the length of temperature data already in the books.  The geographical extent, magnitude of anomalous warmth and temporal occurrence was simply stunning from a scientific viewpoint.

[h/t WeatherUnderground]

Temperatures in mid-March were hotter than previous monthly records for April at the same station!

Statistically, some of those record temperatures were calculated to occur only once every 4,779 years, but instead occurred multiple times in the same week!

[h/t WeatherUnderground]

Put simply, it is extremely unlikely that this event could have happened without the base climate warming beforehand.  As the globe continues to warm, these type of events will unfortunately become a little more common.  As I and others have explained before, the greatest effects of global warming won’t necessarily be felt first by those who live closer to the Equator.  Instead, it is the higher latitudes that will warm more quickly – which will have the effect of extending the yearly warm season to earlier and later dates in a calendar year.  So winters and higher latitudes will be affected first – just as we’ve seen to date.

To end on a somewhat foreboding note, keep in mind that this warming is the physical response to greenhouse gas emissions of ~30 years ago.  We won’t see the results of the additional emissions throughout those 30 years for another generation.  The need for decisive action on mitigation and adaptation grows daily.

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One thought on “March 2012’s US Temperature Records

  1. Pingback: Global Weirding and Optimism Bias « Lack of Environment

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