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Hansen et al: “Extreme Heat Waves … in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 Were ‘Caused’ by Global Warming”

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"Hansen et al: “Extreme Heat Waves … in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 Were ‘Caused’ by Global Warming”"

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“Climate dice,” describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons relative to climatology, have become progressively “loaded” in the past 30 years, coincident with rapid global warming.   The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased.  An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (σ) warmer than climatology.

This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface in the period of climatology [1951-1980], now typically covers about 10% of the land area.  We conclude that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were “caused” by global warming, because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming.  We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing climate change.

That’s the finding of a detailed climatological analysis by NASA’s James Hansen along with Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy in which they attribute some of the uber-extreme heat waves to global warming.

Here’s a key figure from “Perceptions of Climate Change: The New Climate Dice“:

Percent area covered by temperature anomalies in categories defined as hot (> 0.43σ), very hot (> 2σ), and extremely hot (> 3σ).  Anomalies are relative to 1951-1980.  A normal distribution of variability has 68% of the anomalies falling within one standard deviation (σ) of the mean value.  The tails decrease quite rapidly so there is only a 2.3% chance of the temperature exceeding +2σ.  The chance of exceeding +3σ is only 0.13% for a normal distribution of variability.

This analysis builds on some of the recent new papers on the subject, such as “Study Finds 80% Chance Russia’s 2010 July Heat Record Would Not Have Occurred Without Climate Warming” [see figure below]

The entire Hansen et al paper is a must-read.  The authors explain why they focus on summer:

Summer, when most biological productivity occurs, is the most important season for humanity and thus the season when climate change may have its biggest impact.  Global warming causes spring warmth to come earlier and it causes cooler conditions that initiate fall to be delayed.  Thus global warming not only increases summer warmth, it also protracts summer-like conditions, stealing from both spring and fall.  Our study therefore places emphasis on study of how summer temperature anomalies have been changing.

The paper also explains the ‘dice’ metaphor and why they are not fans of using a new climatological period, such as 1981-2010 in place of 1951-1980.  I will excerpt some key parts and post some key figures.

First, you may be wondering why the top chart of summer hot area percentage doesn’t have as clear a trend for the United States as it does for  North America or the globe.  As the authors explain:

The small area of the contiguous 48 states (less than 1.6% of the globe) causes temperature anomalies for the United States to be very “noisy”.  Nevertheless, it is apparent that the long-term trend toward hot summers is not as pronounced in the United States as it is in hemispheric land as a whole.  Also note that the extreme summer heat of the 1930s,  especially 1934 and 1936, is comparable to the most extreme recent years.

Year-to-year variability, which is mainly unforced weather variability, is so large for an area the size of the United States that it is perhaps unessential to find an “explanation” for either the large 1930s anomalies or the relatively slow upturn in hot anomalies during the past few decades.  However, this matter warrants discussion, because, if the absence of a stronger warming in recent years is a statistical fluke, the United States may have in store a relatively rapid trend toward more extreme anomalies.

Some researchers have suggested that the high summer temperatures and drought in the United States in the 1930s can be accounted for by sea surface temperature patterns plus natural variability (10, 11).  Other researchers (12-14), have presented evidence that agricultural changes and crop failure in the 1930s contributed to changed surface albedo, aerosol (dust) production, high temperatures, and drying conditions.  Furthermore, both empirical evidence and climate simulations (14, 15) indicate that agricultural irrigation has a significant regional cooling effect. Thus increasing amounts of irrigation over the second half of the 20th century may have contributed a summer cooling tendency in the United States that partially offset greenhouse  warming.  Such regionally-varying effects may be partly responsible for differences between observed regional temperature trends and the global trend.

They explain the “loaded climate dice” metaphor:

“Loading” of the “climate dice” describes the systematic shift of the frequency distribution of temperature anomalies.  Hansen et al. (2) represented the climate of  1951-1980 by colored dice with two sides colored red for “hot”, two sides blue for “cold”, and two sides white for near average temperatures.  With a normal distribution of temperatures the dividing point would be at 0.43σ to achieve equal (one third) chances of being in each of these three categories in the period of climatology (1951-1980).

A climate model was used (2) to project how the odds would change due to global warming for alternative greenhouse gas scenarios.  Scenario B, which had climate forcing that turned out  to be very close to reality, led to four of the six dice sides being red early in the 21st century based on global climate model simulations.

Fig. 5 confirms that the global occurrence of “hot” anomalies (seasonal mean temperature anomaly exceeding +0.43σ) has approximately reached the level of 67% required to make four sides of the dice red, with the odds of either an unusually “cool” season or an “average” season now each approximately corresponding to one side of the six-sided dice.  However, the loading of the dice over land area in summer is even stronger (Fig. 5, lower row).

Fig. 5. Area of the world covered by temperature anomalies in the categories defined as hot (> 0.43σ), very hot (> 2σ), and extremely hot (> 3σ), with analogous divisions for cold anomalies.

Probably the most important change is the emergence of a new category of “extremely hot” summers, more than 3σ warmer than climatology.  For practical purposes it is important to look at the changes over land areas, where most people live, rather than the global mean for which anomalies are more constrained by the ocean’s thermal inertia.  Fig. 6 illustrates that +3σ anomalies practically did not exist in the period of climatology (1951-1980), but in the past several years these extreme anomalies have covered of the order of 10% of the land area.

… Warming is larger in winter than in summer, but this tends to be more than offset by the much larger natural variability in winter (Fig. 2), which makes it harder for the public to notice climate change in winter.  Another factor affecting the public’s perception of winter warming is the fact that snowfall amounts increase with global warming (in regions remaining cold enough for snow), and there is a tendency of the public to equate heavy snowfall and harsh winter conditions, even if temperatures are not extremely low.

The increase, by more than a factor 10, of area covered by extreme hot anomalies (> +3σ ) in summer reflects the shift of the anomaly distribution in the past 30 years of global warming, as shown succinctly in Fig. 4.   One implication of this shift is that the extreme summer climate anomalies in Texas in 2011, in Moscow in 2010, and in France in 2003 almost certainly would not have occurred in the absence of global warming with its resulting shift of the anomaly distribution.  In other words, we can say with a high degree of confidence that these extreme anomalies were a consequence of global warming….

It is not uncommon for meteorologists to reject global warming as a cause of these extreme events, offering instead a meteorological explanation.  For example, it is said that the Moscow heat wave was caused by an atmospheric “blocking” situation, or the Texas heat wave was caused by La Nina ocean temperature patterns.  Certainly the locations of the extreme anomalies in any given case are related to specific weather patterns.  However, blocking patterns and La Ninas have always been common, yet the large areas of extreme warming have come into existence only with large global warming.  Today’s extreme anomalies occur because of simultaneous contributions of specific weather patterns and global warming.

The paper notes that warming leads to drying (and heavy precipitation):

Changes of global temperature are likely to have their greatest practical impact via effects on the hydrologic cycle.  Amplification of hot, dry conditions by global warming is expected, based on qualitative considerations.  For example, places experiencing an extended period of high atmospheric pressure develop dry conditions, which we would expect to be amplified by global warming and by ubiquitous surface heating due to elevated greenhouse gas amounts.

See “Nature Publishes My Piece on Dust-Bowlification and the Grave Threat It Poses to Food Security” for  some of the recent literature on drying.  See also NOAA Bombshell: Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts; “The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,” said lead author Martin Hoerling, Ph.D. of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory [see figure]

Reds and oranges highlight lands around the Mediterranean that experienced significantly drier winters during 1971-2010 than the comparison period of 1902-2010.  [Click to enlarge.]

And, of course, Hansen et al note that warming leads wet areas to get wetter

The other extreme of the hydrologic cycle, unusually heavy rainfall and floods, is also expected to be amplified by global warming.  The amount of water vapor that the atmosphere holds increases rapidly with atmospheric temperature, and thus a warmer world is expected to  have more rainfall occurring in more extreme events.  What were “100-year” or “500-year”  events are expected to occur more frequently with increased global warming.  Rainfall data reveal significant increases of heavy precipitation over much of Northern Hemisphere land and in the tropics (3) and attribution studies link this intensification of rainfall and floods to humanmade global warming.

See “Two seminal Nature papers join growing body of evidence that human emissions fuel extreme weather, flooding that harm humans and the environment.”

Their bottom line:

If global warming approaches 3°C by the end of the century, it is estimated that 21-52% of the species on Earth will be committed to extinction (3).  Fortunately, scenarios are also possible in which such large warming is avoided by placing a rising price on carbon emissions that moves the world to a clean energy future fast enough to limit further global warming to several tenths of a degree Celsius (29).  Such a scenario is needed if we are to preserve life as we know it.

They don’t even contemplate the 4C to 5C+  warming we are projected to see if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path.

The time to act is now.

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52 Responses to Hansen et al: “Extreme Heat Waves … in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 Were ‘Caused’ by Global Warming”

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Global warming causes spring warmth to come earlier and it causes cooler conditions that initiate fall to be delayed.

    The last seven days of records :
    Max highs vs max lows – 1166 to 46
    Min highs vs min lows – 282 to 56

    http://ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/records/

  2. I received a quite a bit of flack for suggesting climate change played a role during the Russian heat wave in August 2010. More important is Lester Brown’s comments in the article about the risks such heat waves pose to food production. Imagine if a similar heat wave hit the US grain belt in July/August?

    http://stephenleahy.net/2010/08/12/russias-heat-wave-agony-a-wake-up-call-to-the-world/

    • Colorado Bob says:

      SL -
      See peanuts and alfalfa …….. Alfalfa is going for $315 a ton in Northwest, Texas. One year ago it was $165 a ton.
      Dairy cows eat alfalfa.

    • Colorado Bob says:

      Imagine if a similar heat wave hit the US grain belt in July/August?

      A. – There is currently zero snow cover on the winter wheat crop, snow insulated winter wheat is part of mix that makes winter work.

      B. – The record heat the last 30 days is forcing the wheat the leave dormancy, and to grow in January.

      • KWolf says:

        Here in Wisconsin I fear we’re not going to get much snow for the year, again–at the least, I’m not sure we’ll achieve anywhere near the cold temperatures that have historically held insect populations in check. Educated farmers are going to start hedging their bets on what to grow, start basing their productivity on different “Zone” values than they have used traditionally.

  3. Pierre Bull says:

    What’s the estimated date range on the Ogallala aquifer hitting depletion?

    • Colorado Bob says:

      Depends of how much your well , and all your neighbors wells can pump.
      Center pivots let us farm sand hills in Nebraska that had never been touched , as the rush moved forward it was hailed as doing more with less. But in the end, we just stick more “straws into the soda” so we sucked it faster.

  4. jean says:

    I kept posting replies in our Newspapers in Oklahoma that if you love hot weather,this is what Oklahoma will look like and worse of we do not cut carbon emmisions…what a huge relief to find out about this scientific report..I will figure out how to reach Gary Mcmanus,an Oklahoma Climatologist ,who never uses the words “Global Warming”,just “La Nina”Thank goodness for Joe Romm

  5. dan allen says:

    Joe, I was wondering what your reaction is to David Archer’s methane post http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/01/much-ado-about-methane/

    • Joe Romm says:

      It has a dreadful headline, since it is only about methane hydrates, not methane. Otherwise, it is an ok piece.

  6. Leif says:

    Looks like the cat is out of the bag. I do not see much chance of stuffing that critter back in.

  7. Thank you so much for this.

    As we look at the charts – it seems like we could have concluded much of this 10 and 20 years ago.

    What was holding us back? We should take care not to get distracted in the future.

    • KWolf says:

      The one thing I lament about this article is its final conclusion–that we have to do something now or it will be too late.

      It is already too late. It really is. There are 7 billion people on a planet that can reasonably sustain 1 billion, based on pure resource utilization. Add to that the fact that each person is trying to INCREASE their energy use, therefore trying to increase their carbon-footprint–how on earth could anyone expect us to turn the tide now?

      There’s only one solution before ME, personally–move to a more northerly climate (done that) where water is available, and hunker down to see what happens next as the climate trajectory is headed straight toward the bottom of a ravine. For our species? For about half of all species on the planet? There is no solution.

      It sucks. But it’s true, there isn’t a solution short of asking 6 of every 7 people to just die (or stop using resources, which amounts to the same thing) and everyone remaining to use the bare minimum carbon to sustain life. Those requests of our species will be met with a resoundiing “NO,” so … yeah, there will be no positive ending, no turning of the tide.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Yes the cull will be terrible regardless of what we do but to suggest that we, collectively, will do nothing defies human history.

        Social change has a slow build up but once the point of discontinuity is reached, you have mass action. Look back on just the last couple of years and observe the last stages of the build up. It is everywhere all over the world. This thing is going to break and when it does, you are going to see a phase change.

        Might seem unbelievable now, particularly in the USA, but once collective, collaborative mass action kicks in, and spurs creativity, virtually anything can happen. We have seen these waves before in human history.

        There will be a turning of the tide despite the cost and despite the cull, because there is an archetypal force for life. Humans are no different in this respect than any other species and even if we can’t save this so-called ‘civilization’ (which isn’t, and doesn’t deserve to be saved), we can still save a living planet, ME

  8. Solar Jim says:

    Thank you Dr. Hansen for your years of public service (and CP).

    We are cooking the planet by cooking the books, are we not? This is especially so from economic restructuring in the aftermath of World War Two, i.e. the “Cold War.”

    Now, a MAD (mutually assured destruction) military-industrial-media-finance complex of the 1% has globally metastasized and used centralized transnationalism via powers of tax law writing (via this governmental corporatism) to publicly finance our own demise via subsidies (too numerous to account).

    Like invisible carbonic acid gas and it’s invisible radiative forcing, most nation-state subsidies are invisible to a preoccupied public. Their massive size is only exceeded by true social costs that are not accounted for at all (in the vaulted rhetorical “market”).

    Yet, the USA continues to hemorrhage from these numerous social and fiscal costs as we subsidize our way toward increasing public debt and ecologic impoverishment.

    Even Munich Re says the unprecedented disasters in 2011 are related to climate, that is “fossil-fired-fools” (my phrase). And Mother Nature is just warming up. Maybe we should stop subsidizing fossil “fuels” and restructure economics for life-affirming activities (as if our lives depended on it).

  9. Lou Grinzo says:

    Thanks for highlighting this, Joe. It’s an important, albeit very disturbing, piece of work.

    I was glad to see the authors mention (and Joe quote) the part about the hydrologic cycle. I think it’s critical to get across to lay people that the main problem, from a human viewpoint, with climate change is not the higher temperatures directly experienced by people, even though those will certainly be harsh in some instances as we saw in the EU heatwave in 2003. As I’ve been saying for quite some time, the primary vector for climate change’s impacts on human being will be water. Not enough to drink and irrigate crops and drive hydro dams and cool thermoelectric plants in some places, too much in the form of floods and rising sea level and storm surges in others.

    I keep reminding people that we live in a human-built world, and every piece of our infrastructure was created and sited with a list of inherent and sometimes very subtle assumptions. When we kick the Earth System enough to move it out of its old, comfortable (to us) state, then many of those assumptions that were perfectly fine for decades or centuries are suddenly incorrect. The result is localized failures of various pieces of infrastructure to keep our lights on, protect us from high seas, let us grow and deliver food and fresh water, etc., which only places greater burdens on the surrounding portions of our infrastructure. Some of this stress can be absorbed with little short term consequence, some of it can be devastating or even deadly to large numbers of human beings.

    Trying to predict where and how those failures will occur is frightfully complex, yet we insist on pushing the Earth System further and further away from the state that nurtured humanity for thousands of year. We’re playing planetary Russian Roulette, and many of us don’t even realize they’re helping to pull the trigger.

    • Bill G says:

      Lou Grinzo – Water AND food. The general populace will notice food first. The media can continue to hide the threatening water picture for a long time.

      You note complexity of the situation. Nothing complex about running out of food. The Texas and Russian situations were not subtle, just of a lower magnitude than things to come.

      • Colorado Bob says:

        LG -
        You touched on a point that I’m thinking about for years, that the hypothesis as put forth by Wally made a list of predictions.

        These need to be restated, and the age of the predictions along with them. 114F in Dallas everyone can understand, but these extreme precpitation events are little known to the wider world as a direct result of the extra heat being loaded into the system.
        And what they mean, is where the wreckage really adds up.
        Before Katrina, one of the most expensive insurance events to hit the US was a hail storm in Dallas.

        I have been to the Dinosaur National Monument, and as I stood there, and looked at that tangle of bones , I wondered what sort of violence was going to mix these huge creatures on a sand bar. That was decades ago. But now I see it was the water cycle at work in the Jurassic, they lived in a world were 3 feet of rain up stream , could make crossing rivers tricky, and 6 inch diameter hail would crush your skull.

  10. Bill G says:

    Note to Dr. Romm: When will Climate Progress stop the futile campaign to cut emissions and switch to talking about survival possibilities? That is where emphasis of the blog (and the nation) should be if humans are to survive in some number.

    We let fifty years slip by when we could have done something effective about emissions, but we missed that window (in all honesty isn’t that true?).

    Will we miss the survival window as well? Survival requires a lot of thought, planning and action – NOW.

    Climate Progress is informed enough to know the truth and Climate Progress could lead this shift to developing a realistic survival plan.

    • Joe Romm says:

      It isn’t futile, it is inevitable. Even in 2020, heck, even in 2030, mitigation will still be the strategy that requires the most resources. I suppose I will need to do a post explaining why. Also, we have considerably more time to plan for survival, but, in any case, as I have blogged more than once, “adaptation” requires considerably more money than mitigation, and so it is no less futile to propose genuine adaptation than genuine mitigation. But I certainly do expect to spend more time discussing what we face them how people might respond.

      • Colorado Bob says:

        Adaptation -
        A fools errand .
        Case in point Oklahoma City last summer. It was the one year anniversary of their extreme rain event, and people were seeking extra time on doing all the paper to seek help.
        The citizens attacked the city engineer because the plumbing was be enough , so their homes floods.
        He pointed out to them the expense of designing and building a system that handles 6 inches of rain in 12 hours.
        Make a list of all the water & sewer treatment plants destroyed in 2011.
        Then follow them for the next five years , I guess , they will be tested again and again.

      • Bill G says:

        Dr. Romm: If mitigation means reducing emissions, what evidence is there that this is possible? The track record is worse than terrible. We are nearly at 400 ppm for CO2, putting aside troubling increased methane emissions. Rate of green house gas increase suggests strongly we will hit 500 ppm long before this century is out.

        If adaptation means measures to live with extreme temp increases, drought and crop failures, how can this be done? How do we prevent huge crop losses like Texas and Russia? What means do we use?

        Climate Progress is a pretty unique and lonely voice of full climate truth and fact now. A certain responsibility seems to accrue with this distinction. It is time to begin to lay down serious survival strategies (probably migration). Mitigation and adaption discussion can proceed concurrently.

        If Climate Progress does not take up this requirement, then who?

  11. Michael T says:

    NOAA has released their national climate overview report for December 2011:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2011/12

    Looking at the year as a whole, only 2 states (Washington and Oregon) had a mean temperature that was cooler than normal:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/national/Statewidetrank/201101-201112.gif

    Looking at precipitation, Texas had its driest year on record, while 7 other states in the northeast had their wettest year on record:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/national/Statewideprank/201101-201112.gif

  12. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Global warming plus weather equals nasty. Just how much are the extreme weather events changing compared to normal weather events?

    With those big climate models, how many runs get thrown out because they are just too wacky? Maybe we need to put them back in.

  13. fj says:

    Have to admit I have a weird sense of humor cause what comes to mind is that Abbott and Costello comedy routine — and, everyone knows that nobody should listen to Costello anyway — but, they’re in this room with a phone sitting quiet on a desk and Costello keeps saying “Answer the phone! Answer the phone!” again and again and Abbott eventually gets very annoyed: “Why do you keep saying that, the phone isn’t ringing?”

    And, Costello says: “Why wait ’til the last minute!”

    Of course the phone then rings and Abbott picks it up.

    And, we’re way beyond the last minute regarding safely dealing with climate change and can only hope for the best and the excruciating long delay for responsibly dealing with it at wartime speed; let’s hope we can look back and laugh at the clown crowd of obstructionists, know-nothings, and do-nothings — perhaps something like a laughable Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” — that did their best and failed to thwart the successful prosperous forward advance of civilization.

    (Do pardon my optimism)

  14. W Howard says:

    This BBC Horizon documentary is well worth watching …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8RyNSzQDaU

    It suggests that the true impact of the warming effect of greenhouse gases is being masked and offset by the albedo effect from atmospheric pollutants.

    • Leif says:

      Interesting. The thought accrued to me. The fossil industry get away without telling us the chemicals in Fracking agents, perhaps they have been adding something else to the atmosphere to mask the warming that they surely know is happening and are frantically attempting to seize control of everything before humanity finds out big time. After all there is a big chunk of cash on the table.

      Just watched “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” My imagination runs amok.

    • Bill G says:

      W. Howard: Thank you for this BBC program!! Excellent. Everyone needs to see this video. It brings together factors like global dimming, global warming, traditional weather patterns, huge starvation in Africa and other things not presented together.

      The production values are Hollywood level. An exceptional piece of visual education. Thank you!

      Please, everyone who wants to consolidate their understanding of what is happening with climate, look at this BBC program.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8RyNSzQDaU

  15. Michael T says:

    Climate Central report on record highs today…

    High Temperature Records Set in the Plains

    Longstanding high temperature records were annihilated yesterday in eight states, most especially in North and South Dakota, which are typically among the nation’s coldest places at this time of year.

    It was warmer in Rapid City, S.D., with a high of 73°F yesterday, than it was in Miami, where the temperature topped out at 69°F. Mitchell, S.D., reached 68°F, an all-time record high for the month of January (recordkeeping began there in 1896).

    Aberdeen, S.D., reached 63°F, which was also the warmest temperature ever recorded there during the month of January, and the list goes on.

    Climate studies show that because of global warming, there are now many more record highs being set in the U.S. each year compared to record lows. In 2012, the ratio was about three warm temperature records to every cold temperature record.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/record-warmth-grips-plains-states/

  16. Tom Mallard says:

    Consider it’s time to switch to a biofuel that’s not a food crop and still eats CO2 and emits O2 to grow it, and to get a high-volume supply consider growing algae from wastewater.

    Phoenix, AZ, produces 10-million gallons a day of effluent, 41.5-million pounds of fertilizer to feed the algae that must consume it by tomorrow.

    It’s all worth 2-gallons a day per person on the system so for Phoenix it’s 3-million gallons a day in bidiesel made this way, and since algae are really good at cleaning water it’s treated and fully recycled in a desert.

    • Colorado Bob says:

      growing algae from wastewater.

      TM -
      South of the I-20 in West Texas is a huge aquifer that no one uses because it’s brine water , there are 100′s of thousands of square miles of flat land over it. Algae could be farmed there . It’s very sunny.

  17. Michael T says:

    Report from Reuters on yahoo news:

    CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) – Unusually mild winter weather is spoiling the fun for hockey players, skaters and ice fisherman across the Northeast and Midwest as officials warn of uncommonly thin ice.

    Fish and game officials in several northeastern states have issued advisories in recent days, saying ice conditions were unsafe on lakes where ice typically reaches 10 inches thick.

    In Minnesota, officials warned ice was unreliable in the southern part of the state, where temperatures topped 60 degrees for the first time on record in the first week of January.

    With no ice yet recorded on Lake Erie, organizers of Buffalo’s public hockey tournament of 1,000 amateur players say they may have to cancel the February 10 event for the first time in its 5-year history.

    An extraordinarily mild December and early January failed to deliver the cold needed to freeze most lakes and ponds.

    Meteorologists say December temperatures in the region were the warmest in five years. Massachusetts recorded 12 days when the temperature was more than 10 degrees above normal, said Mark Paquette, meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania.

    http://news.yahoo.com/oddly-mild-winter-leaves-northeast-thin-ice-172729957.html

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    Latin America Battling Wildfires, Floods, Droughts

    CHIA, Colombia — From Chile to Colombia to Mexico, Latin America has been battered recently by wildfires, floods and droughts.

    For many witnessing the extreme weather in the region and around the world, the question that comes up again and again is whether climate change is playing a role. The response from experts: Probably.

    While leading climate scientists are unable to pin any single flood or heat wave solely on climate change, experts say the number of extreme weather events is increasing worldwide and the evidence suggests global warming is having an impact.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/latin-america-wild-weather_n_1190433.html

  19. Leif says:

    The deer in my yard, three at the moment, are well into shedding their winter coat. I live at 48+ N lat. in the Pacific NW. It is still the first part of January. We could still get a significant cold spell that could well jeopardize their survival with spring duds on.

    • Colorado Bob says:

      L-
      Dovetails with the other plants and animals trying to change. Saw one from New Orleans, green grass and roses blooming, one from Mississippi , forsythia bushes in full blooms 3 weeks ago.

      • Colorado Bob says:

        L-
        Winter wheat in Kansas is doing the same thing. We’ll see the articles next week . the market will freak-out.

      • Dennis Tomlinson says:

        Grass re-greening, trees buds popping out, hens and chicks henning and chicking, crocuses croaking, daffodils daffying, etc…. in freaking Chicago! They’ll get spanked with a light dose of winter next week, and then who knows what? Eventually, when spring truly does come – whenever that might be – I don’t know.

  20. a face in the clouds says:

    Just changed our AC filter and I’m not sure whether to drop it off at the health department or a television station. The filter was in the unit for only six weeks and turned as black as charcoal (sic). We’ve lived in Austin forever and it would be an understatement to say we’ve never seen anything like it. The wildfires have been out for quite some time. Is this wildfire soot still filtering to the ground?

    • Joan Savage says:

      I’d go with the news station and see if they’d do the rest of the journalism work of contacting the health department, and maybe AirNOW and the TCEQ.
      http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&cityid=229

      My guess is that fine soot particles stayed aloft when things were warm and dry. The particles are dropping closer to ground as they become weighed down with some moisture and are in a cooler atmosphere.
      In my childhood in a city with coal plants, we would see black particles on laundry hung out outside in winter.

  21. Jeff says:

    But CO2 is FOOD for plants and the weather/climate has always changed in the Earth’s past.
    We can’t be causing it!
    chuckle

  22. EdH says:

    People in CLE are loving it. You can’t walk down the street without people talking about what a great winter we’re having so far. Last year’s flooding is all but forgotten.

  23. Ferris Wheel says:

    Here in New Hampshire the temperature must reach 15 or 20 degrees below zero and stay there for a week or two to kill the ticks which spread Lyme disease.

    The heat wave and fires in Texas were God’s wrath for not believing in climate science.

    I do believe in climate change, I do, I do, I do…