Press-Republican

Columns

July 4, 2010

Events of 2010 fit description of Global Weirding

[REFERENCE:CSS1E0D.jpg]Global Weirding is an interesting term.

As explained by Thomas Friedman in his 2008 book "Hot, Flat and Crowded," this term was first used by Hunter Lovins in an attempt to describe to people that the rise of global temperatures will cause all kinds of unusual weather effects.

This would include events such as more heavy snowstorms, frequent intense rainfalls, extreme flooding and … well, I think you get the picture.

TRACKING TEMPS

So what does the data show? An Oct. 19, 2009, paper by lead author Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, titled "The relative increase of record high maximum temperatures compared to record low minimum temperatures in the U.S.," tries to put our recent experiences into perspective.

The co-authors include staff from Climate Central, The Weather Channel and NOAA.

The bar-chart graphic shows the ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows. The data comes from 1,800 weather stations in the lower 48 states over the past 60 years.

PRONOUNCED WARMING

In the period Jan. 1, 2000, to Sept. 30, 2009, these 48 states set 291,237 record highs and 142,420 record lows, giving us the ratio of 2.04 shown.

The earlier five decades were calculated in a similar manner. The warming trend is clear and correlates with global temperature increases and the enormous increase of greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide, being emitted into the atmosphere.

This decade's warming happened to be more pronounced in the western United States. Here the ratio was well more than 2 to 1 while in the eastern United States, the ratio was about 1.5 to 1. These regional differences are not unexpected and are consistent with what climate models indicate.

These models also indicate that with business-as-usual in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, the ratio record highs to record lows could increase to 20:1 by mid-century.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch
Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk
Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time