Autumn is Heating Up Across the US

Autumn is a transitional season. It is generally a time when the heat of summer fades away and the chill of winter gradually returns. But, as our climate changes, the season is heating up.

Across the contiguous United States, autumn temperatures have increased an average of 2.5°F over the past fifty years, according to Climate Central. The western part of the country has seen the fastest seasonal increase, with Reno, NV warming 7.7°F.  Las Vegas, NV, and El Paso, TX have each seen a rise of more than 5°F since 1970.

These warmer temperatures may feel like a summer bonus for some, but they also bring a number of negative impacts. Less frost-free days means the allergy season is extended and disease-carrying pests like mosquitos and ticks are able to live and thrive longer. Warmer temperatures also drive up energy bills, as people with air conditioning units use them longer into the season. This in turn, if they are powered by fossil fuels, adds even more heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Wildlife is also feeling the effects of a warming fall. The timing of when fruits ripen, for example, is being skewed from its “normal schedule”. In turn, this is impacting the once well-synced patterns of animal behaviors such as bird migration and hibernation.

Looking ahead, as greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, so too will the temperature and its associated impacts.

Credit: Climate Central

Climate Week NYC Focuses on “A Race We Can Win”

Climate Week NYC begins on Monday. This annual event is taking place alongside the UN Climate Action Summit, the theme of which is “A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win.”

Organized by The Climate Group, the week-long event brings together leaders from a variety of sectors, including government, business, and non-profit organizations, to discuss solutions to climate change. Their overall goal is to accelerate climate action and limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Public events to raise awareness and support of the summit’s mission are scheduled all around the city. They range in style from panel discussions and seminars to concerts and exhibitions. One early event taking place this Saturday is the “Our Future Festival”, which has been organized by the NYC Chapter of the Climate Reality Project.  For the full program of events, go to the Climate Week website.

Credit: The Climate Group

Earth Posts 2nd Warmest August and 2nd Warmest June-August Season on Record

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month. August 2019 marked not only Earth’s second warmest August, but also closed out the planet’s second warmest June-August season on record.

According to the State of the Climate Report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for August – over both land and sea surfaces – was 61.76°F, which is 1.66°F above the 20th-century average. This August also marked the 416th consecutive month with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.

The three-month period of June, July, and August – meteorological summer in the northern hemisphere – was also unusually warm. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 1.67°F above the 20th century average of 60.1°F. That makes it the second warmest such period on record. It is also important to note that nine of the ten warmest June-August periods have all occurred since 2009.

While heat dominated most of the planet this August, some places were particularly warm, including Europe, Africa, and parts of Hawaii and Alaska. For the contiguous US as a whole, August 2019 tied August 1955 as the 13th warmest on record.

These soaring temperatures are largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. As greenhouse gases continue to spew into the atmosphere, global temperatures are expected to continue to rise.

Year to date, the first eight months of 2019 were the third warmest such period of any year on record. At this point, it is very likely that 2019 will finish among the top five warmest years ever recorded. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

Climate Indicator: Record Highs Outpacing Record Lows

There are a variety of indicators that show our climate is changing, including increasing average temperatures, melting glaciers, and sea-level rise. Nevertheless, it is extreme events, such as record heat, that usally garner the most attention.

Around the globe, the number of record high temperatures are out-numbering record low temperatures. In the US, according to an analysis by the AP, record warm days have out-paced record cold days by a ratio of 2:1 since 1999. This is a clear sign of our climate is shifting to a “new normal”.

In a stable climate, record highs and lows would be more balanced, with the ratio being closer to 1:1.

While climate change is a global phenomenon, we can see it playing out at a local scale. Here in New York City, we still get the occasional cold snap in winter, but the record highs have been outpacing the record lows for decades.

Credit: Climate Central

July 2019: Earth’s Warmest Month on Record

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with July 2019 marking not only the warmest July on record, but also the warmest month ever recorded for the entire planet. The previous record was set just three years ago in July 2016.

According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 62.11°F. That is 1.71°F above the 20th-century average. Since July is the Earth’s warmest month of the year climatologically, the July 2019 global temperature is now the highest temperature for any month on record.

July 2019 also marked the 415th consecutive month with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below-average reading was December 1984. Furthermore, nine of the ten warmest Julys have occurred since 2005, with the last five years producing the five warmest Julys on record. July 1998 is the only year from the last century on the top ten list.

While heat dominated most of the planet this July, some places were particularly warm, including Europe as well as parts of Asia, Africa, and Australia. In the United States, Alaska posted its warmest month ever recorded. For the contiguous US, the month tied July 1917 as the 27th warmest July on record.

These soaring temperatures are largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. As greenhouse gases continue to spew into the atmosphere, global temperatures are expected to continue to rise.

Year to date, the first seven months of 2019 tied 2017 as the second warmest such period of any year on record. At this point, it is very likely that 2019 will finish among the top five warmest years on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

July 2019 was the warmest month ever recorded on this planet. Credit: NOAA

Summer Nights are Getting Warmer Across the US

Summer is the time of year when warm temperatures are expected. As our climate changes, however, the season is getting even hotter, especially at night.

Since 2010, according to NOAA, there have been 34% more record-warm low temperatures set than record-warm high temperatures. Nationally, summertime lows have increased an average of 1.8°F since 1895, according to an analysis by Climate Central, a nonprofit science news organization. The southwestern part of the country has seen the greatest warming, with Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada showing an increase of 16.9°F and 9.1°F respectively. Not far behind are El Paso, Texas at 7.7°F and Salt Lake City, Utah at 6.6°F.

In addition to climate change, land use issues also play a role in our warming nights. Paved surfaces hold more heat than vegetated ones, so cities tend to be hotter than rural areas, particularly during the overnight hours. This is known as the urban heat island effect.

When temperatures do not significantly cool off at night, people do not get a chance to recover from the heat of the day. This can cause serious health concerns, especially for young children, the sick, and the elderly. Warmer nights also drive up energy bills, as people with air conditioning units use them more. This in turn, if they are powered by fossil fuels, adds even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Credit: Climate Central

June 2019: Warmest June on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with June 2019 marking the warmest June ever recorded on this planet.

According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 61.61°F. That is a staggering 1.71°F above the 20th-century average and 0.04°F above the previous record that was set in 2016.

June 2019 also marked the 414th consecutive month with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below-average reading was December 1984. Furthermore, nine of the ten warmest Junes have occurred since 2010. June 1998 is the only year from the last century on the top ten list and currently ranks eighth.

While heat dominated most of the planet this June, some places were particularly warm, including Europe, parts Russia and South America, as well as Alaska. In fact, Europe posted its warmest June on record and Alaska had its second warmest June since statewide record-keeping began there in 1925.

For the contiguous US as a whole, this June was close to average and ranked in the middle third of the national record. To put this disparity into context, consider that the United States constitutes less than 2% of the total surface of the Earth. This detail also highlights the fact that climate change is a complex global phenomenon that involves long-term trends more than the short-term weather conditions that are happening in any one part of the world.

Year to date, the first six months of 2019 tied with the first half of 2017 as the second warmest such period of any year on record. At this point, it is very likely that 2019 will finish among the top five warmest years on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

June 2019: Earth’s Warmest June on Record. Credit: NOAA

Swamped by Barry, Arkansas Sets New State Tropical Rainfall Record

Hurricane Barry made headlines for making landfall in Louisiana over the weekend, but its torrential rain made history Arkansas this week.

According to the NWS, the remnants of the moisture-laden storm dumped 16.59 inches of rain in Dierks, Arkansas, setting a new tropical rainfall record for the state. The previous record of 13.91 was set in Portland, AR during Tropical Storm Allison in 1989.

Arkansas is the fifth state to set a new tropical rainfall record in the last two years. The other four include Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

These types of extreme rain events have been happening more frequently in recent years and most experts see a link to climate change. As the atmosphere and oceans warm, storms are able to carry more moisture, and therefore drop more rain.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

“Warming Stripes”: The Colors of Climate Change

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. That is the case with “Warming Stripes”, a creative visualization of climate data by Ed Hawkins, a scientist at the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science.

Painting a picture of our changing climate, each stripe represents a single year from 1850 through the present. With an aesthetic similar to color field paintings by artists such as Barnett Newman or Mark Rothko, the images use only color to communicate meaning. Simplifying a complex issue for maximum impact with the general public, they avoid distracting details and focus on the big picture.

In “Warming Stripes for the Globe” (see below), it is plain to see the shift from blue (cooler) on the left to red (warmer) on the right. While there were a few warm years here and there in the past, the overall trend clearly shows temperatures are getting warmer. It is also important to note that the red has been getting darker (hotter) in recent years.

To see how the warming trend is playing out on a more regional or local level in different parts of the world, visit www.showyourstripes.info

“Warming Stripes for Globe, 1850-2018”. Credit: Ed Hawkins

Summers are Getting Hotter in the US

Summer is the warmest part of the year with high sun angles and long daylight hours. But, as our climate changes, the season is getting even hotter.

Across the contiguous United States, summer temperatures have increased an average of more than 2°F over the past fifty years, according to Climate Central, a non-profit science news organization. The western and southwestern parts of the country have seen the fastest seasonal increase, with places like Boise, ID, Las Vegas, NV, and McAllen, TX each warming more than 5°F since 1970.

Soaring temperatures can pose a risk to human health and cause energy costs to skyrocket as people try to beat the heat.  They can also lead to drought and threaten agricultural production.

Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing the atmosphere to warm, can minimize many of these impacts. On a local level, adaptation measures are also important. In urban areas, which tend to heat up quickly, planting more trees can help keep neighborhoods cooler during the increasingly intense heat of the summer months.

Credit: Climate Central