There were a record number of high and low temperatures across the U.S. and Canada in 2016—and the same goes for 2017 thus far.
Last winter was so much warmer than normal that I thought we could not possibly surpass that record warmth this winter. However, we keep breaking new weather records, especially for warmth.
For you weather nerds (and I count myself among you), here are a few items that you might find of interest.
Causes of Record Warmth
Just paging through Science News, an article titled “2016 Shattered Earth’s Heat Record” noted that 2016 was the third year in a row that was the warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880. I already knew that, but what I did not realize was something noted later in the article: that this also happened back in the years 1939 through ’41, which were the three warmest years ever, as of that time. Like 2014–16, those were also years where solar activity was decreasing from its peak in the 11-year cycle.
Another Science News article, this one titled “Sunspot Cycle May Be Ancient Routine,” discussed new research at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which suggests that the approximately 11-year solar cycles have been occurring for at least 290 million years. So, these cycles have definitely been around longer than I have.
(Learn more about sunspots.)
The third item in Science News was an article in the “NEWS IN BRIEF” section and titled “Earth’s Last Major Warm Period Was as Hot as Today.” This article discusses recent research findings that “average global sea surface temperatures around 125,000 years ago were indistinguishable from the 1995 to 2014 average.” Climate scientists are especially interested in this historical warm period because sea levels were about 20 feet higher than current levels, meaning the areas that are now New Orleans, Florida, and New York City were mostly under water the last time global temperatures were this warm.
A Record-Setting Month
One of my Facebook friends posted something linking to an article explaining that “The U.S. Is Posed to Set a Record-Setting Record,” as, in February alone, there were 3,146 record high temperatures in the United States and only 27 record lows, which means this will likely be the most lopsided month on record!!
Another of my Facebook friends posted last night that “This week’s warm weather may bring about an early amphibian migration beginning this weekend … to get a jump-start on the breeding season.” She is planning on a field trip to watch on Saturday night and invited her friends to join her.
I did not respond, as I am hopeful that I will have something better to do this Saturday night than watch amphibians breed. Then again, based on my track record, maybe I’d better reserve a spot before the amphibian watch fills up.