Hot spots: Northeast, Southwest

Average annual temperatures in Carson City, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho, have gone up by 4 degrees since 1984
Associated Press
Jun 5, 2014

 

The United States is warming fastest at two of its corners, in the Northeast and the Southwest, an analysis of federal temperature records shows.

Northeastern states — led by Maine and Vermont — have gotten the hottest in the last 30 years in annual temperature, gaining 2.5 degrees on average. But Southwestern states have heated up the most in the hottest months: The average New Mexico summer is 3.4 degrees warmer now than in 1984; in Texas, the dog days are 2.8 degrees hotter.

The contiguous United States' annual average temperature has warmed by 1.2 degrees since 1984, with summers getting 1.6 degrees hotter. But that doesn't really tell you how hot it's gotten for most Americans. While man-made greenhouse gases warm the world as a whole, weather is supremely local. Some areas have gotten hotter than others because of atmospheric factors and randomness, climate scientists say.

"In the United States, it isn't warming equally," said Kelly Redmond, climatologist at the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nevada. "Be careful about extrapolating from your own backyard to the globe."

For example, while people in the East and Midwest were complaining about a cold winter this year, Redmond's Nevada and neighboring California were having some of their warmest winter months ever.

To determine what parts of the country have warmed the most, The Associated Press analyzed National Climatic Data Center temperature trends in the lower 48 states, 192 cities and 344 smaller regions within the states. Climate scientists suggested 1984 as a starting date because 30 years is a commonly used time period and 1984, which had an average temperature, is not a cherry-picked year to skew a trend either way. The trend was calculated by the NCDC using the least squares regression method, which is a standard statistical tool.

All but one of the lower 48 states have warmed since 1984. North Dakota is the lone outlier, and cooled slightly. Ten states — Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Mexico, Connecticut and New York — have gotten at least 2 degrees warmer in the past 30 years.

Since 1984, 92 percent of the more than 500 cities and smaller regions within states have warmed and nearly two-thirds of them have warmed by at least a degree. The regions that have warmed the most have been New York's St. Lawrence Valley, northeastern Vermont, northern Maine, the northeastern plains of New Mexico and western Vermont, all of which have warmed by more than 2.5 degrees.

Cities — where data is a tad more suspect because they are based on a single weather station and readings can be affected by urban heating and development — see the greatest variation. Carson City, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho, are the cities that have seen the most warming — both year-round and in summer — since 1984. Both cities' average annual temperatures have jumped more than 4 degrees in just 30 years, while Dickinson, North Dakota, has dropped the most, a bit more than 2 degrees.

The Southwest warming, especially in the summer, seems to be driven by dryness, because when there is little water the air and ground warm up faster, said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

"Heat and drought are a vicious cycle that has been hitting the Southwest hard in recent years," Hayhoe said.

And in the Northeast, the temperatures are pushed up by milder winters and warm water in the North Atlantic, said Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. And less snow on the ground over the winter often means warmer temperatures, said Alan Betts, a climate scientist at Atmospheric Research in Pittsford, Vermont.

The Southeast and Northwest were among the places that warmed the least. In the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, industrial sulfur particle pollutants from coal burning may be reflecting sunlight, thus countering heating caused by coal's carbon dioxide emissions, said Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann.

Comments

Contango

Re: "average,"

Avg. is a poor way to measure effects.

On "average" the Great Lakes never freeze.

If Bill Gates walks into a party, the "average" net worth of everyone in the room increased exponentially.

So what EXACTLY is the "average" temp. of the Earth?

The Bizness

The world is changing and its due to us, we can ignore it, as you want to do, or we can change our ways.

Contango

Re: "The world is changing,"

A universal truism: The only constant is change.

Keep believing in your religion of scientism.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Until there are less of us, according to the term "man-made climate change" there is little that can be done despite ways being changed. Man by definition is the problem, the zero patient, the "dioxide Mary". Solar panels and such are a band-aid on a sucking chest wound if it is actually the people of the planet who are causing it through their need to sustain themselves, be productive, and live ever-increasing amounts of time.

If you want to throw your hat into it, jazzbo and I are having a good back-and-forth over here: http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

I know that this issue is nearer and dearer to you than others so your input would be welcome. I enjoy talking about it with you as it really motivates you, Biz.

eriemom

"The trend was calculated by the NCDC using the least squares regression method, which is a standard statistical tool."

Contango

@ Biz:

I'd prefer that any 'changes' be done through the free mkt. rather than Soviet-style, govt. subsidized crushing diktats.

"Why is solar growing so fast? Because in the past three years, the cost of panels has been halved."

http://www.bloombergview.com/art...

The wind turbine capital of the U.S.?

Texas - that 'evil' red state.

"Texas Sets New Wind Power Record":

http://www.forbes.com/sites/pete...

eriemom

Energy and transportation have never been funded wholly through the free market. Both renewable energy sources that you mention could never have competed with cheaper fossil fuel energy production at start up.

http://cen.acs.org/articles/89/i...

Contango

Re: "Energy and transportation have never been funded wholly through the free market."

Sure they have. Examples: Drake's well and "Fulton's Folly."

Private investment and risk.

The Bizness

Dude I understand that you love your free mkt crap. That is why I am on here trying to get people to understand that they can make the choice to move to a cleaner future. We as inhabitants of earth need start demanding cleaner energy, less time spent in cars, more walkable/cyclable cities, more local produce, less meat, and less use of oil for our goods.

Contango

Re: "Dude I understand that you love your free mkt crap."

Written like a lover of wrong-headed centralized planning.

The key to sustained economic growth is the individual NOT the collective.

You'd enjoy a place like socialist France where they've now slipped below Greece and are in last place in European economic productivity.