Some people in the Binghamton NY area where I live have the unfortunate habit of thinking that the area has the cloudiest weather possible.
They have not been in London UK in winter. There has been very little sunshine in the nearly two weeks we have been here. This is partly due to cloud cover which is nearly constant. There hasn’t been that much rain, though there is some. It’s also quite breezy, all of which is typical of winter here.
The other reason that there isn’t much sunshine is because the amount of daylight available at this latitude is much shorter than it is in Binghamton. On December 22nd, when I arrived in London, there were nine hours and six minutes of daylight in Binghamton, but only seven hours and 54 minutes here.
One thing that is in evidence here, as elsewhere around the world, is weather weirding. It has been very warm for winter here. E has only seen frost one morning so far and the temperatures here have stayed almost entirely in the 10s Celsius (50s Fahrenheit). It’s unusual for it to stay this warm for this long in winter, which is typically, while not the cold and snow of the US Northeast, chillier and closer to freezing than what we are seeing this year. We are also having a warmer than normal early winter back home. In both places, it’s likely the climate-change induced impacts to the jet stream in conjunction with the ocean currents causing the unusual warmth.
At least none of us are having to shovel snow…
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Here in the lower 48 of the United States, we have been experiencing unusually cold weather.
Some people, including our president, have been taking this as evidence that there is not global warming going on, but our cold snap is actually a predictable part of global climate change.
Some points on this topic:
- What we experience day to day is weather; global climate has to do with the whole world over a longer time period. Weather of all sorts continues to happen as generally appropriate to one’s locality.
- Global warming does not rescind seasons, which occur due to astronomical conditions. It is still winter here in the Northern Hemisphere.
- The disruption of global warming impacts different regions in different ways rather than uniformly. For example, the arctic regions are warming more quickly than other regions, which disrupts the upper level winds and changes the temperature and water-carrying capacity of weather systems. The cold air that has made its way into most of the lower 48 states has been able to do so because the mechanisms that have historically kept these winter air masses confined to Alaska and Canada have broken down. It is a symptom, not a refutation of global warming – and part of the reason that the term global climate change is used more often than global warming.
- If the climate system were in equilibrium, one would expect roughly the same number of record high and record low recorded temperatures. There have been significantly more high than low temperature records globally in recent years. This article has a good explanation, along with a graphic that shows the proportion in the US for the last 365 days. In some regions in the world, the disparity is even greater, as high as 5 to 1.
I hope everyone will stay warm – or cool – as needed in the location where you are. I also hope that people will look to see what changes or adaptations they need to make to deal with current and expected changes to our climate.
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This article on the warmest February on record does a good job of explaining how much of the warmth was attributable to El Niño and how much to climate change. Hint: It’s mostly climate change.
As the scientific evidence mounts, we need more articles like this one to explain to people the gravity of the situation and spur them to action.
Please read and share!
Much of the energy expended this weekend has been spent taking down Christmas decorations.
Yesterday, we concentrated on helping Grandma, which is a huge task as she likes to decorate every room.
Today, we packed things here at our house. I’m happy to report that everything is safely stowed in the basement, waiting for December 2016 to roll around. Well, not everything. The tree is out on the curb, waiting for the special collection that will turn the trees into mulch for the parks.
With Christmas things put away, there are few clues as to it being winter. We have had a major rainstorm with temperatures in the 40s F. (mid-single digits C.) We are expecting some seasonably cold temperatures tomorrow. At least we will know it is mid-January without referring to the calendar.
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Connecting the dots on climate change:
A Pacific tropical typhoon is so strong that it reaches the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and disrupts the jet stream, allowing polar air to sink over much of the continental United States. When the frigid air passes over the relatively warm water of the Great Lakes, it picks up a lot of moisture and dumps it over land as snow. Some towns in western New York south of Buffalo have already received 5+ feet of snow, with an additional 2-3 feet on the way. (That’s 1.5 meters or more on the ground with another meter to come.)
A similar occurrence could have happened in the past, some time before recorded history in the region. It isn’t possible to say that any particular weather event is directly caused by global warming, However, the incidence of these extreme kinds of weather is rising quickly along with average global temperature.
It’s time for everyone to get serious about phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible and ramping up renewable energy in conjunction with energy efficiency. If we see this much change with less than one degree Celsius global temperature rise, we will have to brace ourselves for more as we attempt to keep the total rise under two degrees Celsius.