May 6, 2012

Climate change no longer a puzzle

Referring to Russia in a radio broadcast in October 1939, Winston Churchill stated, "Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." The same may have been true several decades ago in terms of our understanding of Earth's climate system, but no longer.

When putting together a puzzle, a lot of pieces may be in place, but some are still missing. But there is no doubt about the image that is emerging. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its report, "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis," and it took 998 pages to summarize and interpret all of the data then available. This was not a sound bite.

An updated report is due in 2013, and it will fill in many of the missing pieces, giving us all an ever-clearer picture of what is happening to the Earth's weather and climate system.

As research continues, and questions generated by earlier research findings are answered, the data continues to make it clear that climate change is occurring. Note the chart, courtesy of Capital Climate, "2011—12 Ratio of Heat to Cold Records."

In a stable climate, one would expect that the number of high temperature records divided by low temperature records for a given month or year would be about one. That is not the case anymore.

The heat records in March 2012 were unmatched in recorded history for the United States and Canada. The ratio of 35.3 to 1, of highs to lows, is almost off the charts.

In the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast, monthly average temperatures were 15 degrees or more above normal. According to Bloomberg (April 9, 2012), more than 15,000 daily temperature records were broken or tied in the United States in March, and the average temperature in the contiguous United States was 8.6 degrees above the 20th-century average.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg World in palm of our hands

    A newsroom workshop made writer Susan Tobias realize how far technology has come since she started working at the Press-Republican.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mulholland_Jonathan.jpg Running tips to get you in top form

    Different limb lengths, tighter muscles, stiffer joints, prior injuries all play role in determining your running style, Jonathan Mulholland writes.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walace_Jolene 7-12_cropped.jpg Let these tips on planting trees take root

    You may think that digging a hole and plopping the tree in will suffice, and it will if you only want the tree to live a short time, columnist Jolene Wallace writes.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • amy_ivy.jpg Is it time to plant? Not yet

    All we can do is wait and see how things get through, columnist Amy Ivy writes.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

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