Is this the March of our Future? What's going on?
OK I got you to open and start reading. This isn’t the NCAA “March Madness” this is about the record heat in the country that has been going on. A weather “March Madness” if you will. Look at the March high temperature records through March 15.
More than 2000 record highs and more coming in the days ahead. Washington had one record Thursday but earlier in the month records from the Pacific Northwest to New England. Even the “icebox of the country” International Falls saw March records tumble and Chicago had the first two 80° in a row in March ever. It must be global warming . . . right? Well not so quick.
We did have the 4th warmest winter in weather records here in the United States and for us in Washington it was the 3rd warmest winter in our weather records which go back about 150 years.
Recent news stories are ascribing everything from the warm winter, the low winter snows, early tornadoes to long-term climate change.
But look at the global winter temperatures for 2011-12. Some areas, such as the U.S. were much milder than average but other areas, such as central Asia were much colder than average.
The global winter temperature was probably close to long-term average. That is not to say the long-term global temperature is not changing. A very thorough examination of global temperature confirmed what a number of research centers have found. The earth’s temperature is rising.
Sure, there are year-to-year fluctuations but the long-term trend is clear and almost 100% of scientists actively working in the field (as opposed to bloggers and agendists looking to cherry pick one item from a bushel of research) do believe our human footprints are in at least a good part of this warming. Nevertheless, not every weather event or even a record March such as we are seeing is caused by changes we are making to the atmosphere, land and ocean. Climate research scientist Kevin Trenberth did put the climate change weather link this way, “It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.” But the trend is sure getting clearer. More record highs than record lows are likely in the years ahead,
the oceans will continue to get more acidic,
as they absorb increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, arctic sea ice will continue to thin and decrease,
and atmospheric “blocks” such as this pattern into next week
may become more frequent as my friend Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel has written about and you can read his latest thoughts here. A lot of work in that. So the trends are there and we should expect more records ahead and milder winter nights too. If you want to tell your very young grandchildren when to plan to see the cherry blossoms in 2050, they might think about early March rather than early April based on these trends.
- So this all means after a warm March we are in for a very hot summer - right? No not really. You have to read this blog. As a matter of fact very warm Marches are often followed by rather cool summers. But of course keep watching. And read more about the science of global change not just some blogs that cherry pick a few items from the great basket of what science is finding. Next March? Want to bet it will be cooler than this March. I know probably an easy bet