Second Warmest Winter on Record


Image from NOAA

Maxwell Bernstein | March 18, 2020

Global land and ocean surface temperatures for December through February in the Northern Hemisphere were the 2nd warmest in 141 years according to NOAA’s Global Climate Report, making this Earth’s 2nd warmest winter on record.

Global land and ocean temperatures for the winter of 2019-2020 were 2.02°F warmer than the 20th century average temperature, while December through February of 2015-2016 were 2.12°F warmer than the 20thcentury average temperature. The 2015-2016 winter temperatures were raised by a periodic El Niño boost which the 2019-2020 winter lacked. 

NOAA also released their National Climate Reports for December, January, and February of 2020, making this the 6th warmest winter on record in the United States. 

Some notable statistics included December of 2019 being the 2nd wettest year on record for the United States, with 4.48 inches of precipitation more than the average. This was also the 5th warmest January for the United States with temperatures being 5.4°F warmer than the 20th century average.

The warm winter coincides with 2019 being Earth’s 2nd hottest year in the 140-year records. The global temperatures of 2019 were .07°F less than 2016’s record temperatures. These record temperatures are attributed to the release of heat trapping greenhouse gasses from human-induced climate change

DNR 2019 precipitation summary recalls Iowa’s rainy year


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From the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 

Julia Poska | January 10, 2020

2019 was Iowa’s 12th wettest year on record, with an average of 41.49 inches of rainfall across the state, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Rainfall in May, September and October was especially high, while the summer months experienced below average rainfall.

The two-year 2018/2019 period was the wettest on record, with 19 more inches of precipitation than average. Stream flows were above normal all 2019 following heavy snow in the winter months. The rainy spring and fall seasons are indicative of projected climate change models for the region.

2019 temperatures in Iowa were cooler than average, however, by 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit. During the January “Polar Vortex,”one station in Emmet County recorded a -59 degree windchill. Summer was slightly cooler than average, though July and September were warm, andChristmas week broke record temperature highs.

 

U.S. enters October with extreme weather across the country


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Today’s high temperature forecast from the National Weather Service. 

Julia Poska | October 2, 2019

Some areas of the United States entered October in summer-like heat while others faced frosty cold and intense rain.

Dry heat is scorching the south and eastern parts of of the country. More than a dozen cities — including Cleveland, New Orleans, Nashville and Indianapolis — broke high temperature records for the whole month of October.  The Weather Channel forecasts that records may continue to break through Thursday.

Meanwhile, states like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming felt unseasonable cold, with temperatures in 38 degrees Fahrenheit in Boise, Idaho. These temperatures follow a frosty weekend in the region,  with record-breaking cold and snowfall.

The Weather Channel attributes the temperature extremes to an especially dramatic curve in the polar jet stream — a fast-moving, high-altitude band of wind that impacts weather throughout the hemisphere.  Right now, the jet stream dips abnormally southward in the Western U.S. and soars abnormally northward in the east for this time of year.

Storms and floods along the stream’s path (where, the hot/dry and cool/wet air masses meet) are threatening parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

Studies say climate change alters the jet stream, intensifying weather phenomena like the “polar vortex,” though it is difficult to determine whether greenhouse gasses are playing a role in this week’s weather patterns.

 

 

Record high winter temperatures in Arctic, again


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The Rink Glacier in Greenland captured melting into the sea during the summer of 2012. (NASA/Flickr)

Jenna Ladd | March 8, 2017

The data is in, and winter temperatures in the Arctic reached record highs again this year.

U.S. weather data shows that average temperatures during December, January, and February this year were 8.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual. There are fifteen weather monitoring stations throughout the Arctic, many of them in Alaska and Greenland. Winter temperatures in some regions soared higher than the average. Barrow, Alaska, for example, sizzled with average winter temperatures a full 14 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

Even the weather monitoring station that is located closest to the top of the world in northern Greenland recorded 60 hours of above freezing temperatures this winter. Prior to this winter, scientists say, the station had only experienced above-freezing temperatures during February a few times in history.

The rising temperatures caused sea ice to vanish in the North Pole again this year. North Pole sea ice coverage hit a record low in February 2017 and decreased again this year by a full 62,000 square miles, which is about the size of the state of Georgia.

Ruth Mottram is a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute. She said to the Associated Press, “The extended warmth really has kind of staggered all of us.”

Some scientists have pointed to melting sea ice as an explanation for the extreme and strange winter weather that has plagued the eastern United States this year. Simply put, less sea ice means that there is less of an atmospheric pressure difference between the Arctic and areas further south, which weakens the jet stream. A weak jet stream causes  storms to linger over regions in the eastern U.S. and Europe before moving along, often making them more destructive.

Record highs in Iowa track with global highs


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Yesterday’s record-setting hourly temperatures are highlighted in red. (Iowa Mesonet)

Jenna Ladd | December 6, 2017

Temperatures reached an all-time high of 69 degrees Fahrenheit in Des Moines on Monday.

Iowa Mesonet found that temperatures at 8 AM and 12 PM on Monday also reached an all-time hourly high for the state on the 131 year record. A cold front swept across the state Monday night, causing temperature highs to drop to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in Des Moines on Tuesday.

There are a couple of months left in 2017, but the year is expected to be the second or third warmest year on record. The World Meteorological Organization announced on November 3rd at the United Nations climate change conference that average temperatures from January through September 2017 were 1.98 degrees Fahrenheit higher than preindustrial levels. In fact, the five year period from 2013 through 2017 is expected to be the warmest five year period on WMO’s record.

Record high temperatures have come with an uptick of catastrophic weather events worldwide. WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in the statement, “We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius [122 degrees F] in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.”

Temperatures in December and January will determine whether 2017 is the second or third warmest year on record.

On The Radio – September brings record heat worldwide


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Temperatures in Kuwait reached 123 degrees Fahrenheit on September 3rd, 2017. (flickr/Lindsay Silveira)

Jenna Ladd | November 27, 2017

This week’s On The Radio segment discusses how September 2017 set high heat records all over the world. 

Transcript: September 2017 was the planet’s fourth warmest September since record-keeping began in 1880.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Warmer-than-usual temperatures were recorded across most of the world’s land and ocean surfaces during September this year, despite the absence of an El Niño effect. El Niño events typically bring warmer weather because they cause the ocean to release warm air into the atmosphere. September 2015 is the warmest on record, with September 2016 and 2014 trailing close behind.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s September global climate report noted record high temperatures in many of the world’s oceans and in parts of Africa and Asia. The hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere was 109 degrees Fahrenheit on September 27th in Birdsville, Australia. In the northern hemisphere, temperatures soared to 123 degrees Fahrenheit on September 3rd in Mitribah, Kuwait.

So far, 2017 is on track to become the second hottest year on NOAA’S 138-year record.

For more information and to read the September global climate report in full, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

March 2017 breaks temperature records, even without El Niño


March temp
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association)

Jenna Ladd | April 20, 2017

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, which is among the scientific organizations on the Trump Administration’s budget chopping block, has reported yet another global warming record.

March 2017 was the first time ever that a monthly average temperature was more than 1°C above average in the absence of an El Niño event. During El Niño episodes the ocean-atmosphere system in the Tropical Pacific moves in different ways that result in warmer than usual temperatures worldwide. Record warmth in the absence of El Niño suggests that human-induced climate change is to blame.

NOAA’s March 2017 report revealed that warmer and much-warmer-than-average temperatures were measured for much of Earth’s land and oceanic surfaces. The U.S. mainland, Europe, Russia, Mongolia, and Australia saw the hottest month, where departures from average temperatures were +3.0°C (+5.4°F) or more. Some regions such as western Canada and Alaska did experience a colder than usual year but no cool weather records were set.

According to a continental analysis by NOAA, four of the six continents experienced a top seven warm March since records began in 1910. Europe and Oceania had their second hottest March on record, despite the absence of an El Niño even this year.

 

The first three months of 2017, January through March, have already proven to be the second warmest on record. Only 2016 had higher average temperatures, but that was an El Niño year. Even more notably, the first three months of 2017 have been significantly warmer than January through March of 2015, which was also an El Niño year.

Zeke Hausfather is a climate scientist at University of California, Berkeley and commented on the report in an interview with the Associated Press. He said, “If El Niño were the main driver of record warmth, there is no way the last three months would have been as warm as they have been.”