Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How Cold Does It Have To Be?

As we close in on the last quarter of the year (and the end of baseball’s regular season), 2012 is on track to be the country's hottest year ever recorded. But as Yogi Berra says, “It ain't over 'til it's over.”

So how cold would it need to be for the rest of the year to miss the record?

Click on the image to see the high resolution version.  Image Credit: Climate Central.

Pretty darn cold. As you can see in the graphic above, based on temperature data from NOAA’s NCDC, if we have normal fall and winter temperatures every month for the rest of the year, we will clearly break the record (yellow line). If it stays warmer than average, we will break the record by even more (orange line). In order to miss breaking the record as the hottest year ever recorded in the United States, the months of September through December would each need to be among the coolest third of those months on record (green line).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Arctic Sea Ice Matters

A record low in the Arctic sea ice extent occurred on September 16, 2012 and it was the lowest in the satellite record which started in 1979. Even more troubling was that this year also saw a record low in sea ice volume.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version. Image Credit: NSIDC.

The previous record minimum extent occurred in 2007.  What was extraordinary about this year was that weather conditions were not as favorable for melting as in 2007.  That year was noted for long periods of sunshine which allowed the ice to melt over much of the Arctic.  This year came on the heels of a cold winter in which the ice extent came close to normal.  There were more clouds and a powerful storm which hit the Arctic in early August which helped to break up more of the thin ice.

Click on the image for a high-resolution version. Image Credit: Climate Central.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Heat Is On

Image Credit: Climate Central.

The January-August period was the warmest first eight months of any year on record for the contiguous United States. The national temperature of 58.7°F was 4.0°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above the previous record warm January-August of 2006. During the eight-month period, 33 states were record warm and an additional 12 states were top ten warm. Only Washington had statewide temperatures near average for the period.

The statewide ranks of temperatures since 1895 and the top ten warmest January-August periods in South Carolina.  Image Credit: NOAA\NCDC.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Relief In Sight

It is about this time of year after a long hot summer that everyone longs for the heat and humidity to be over.  Meteorological summer is over, but the misery of summer lingers. People are sick and tired of the heat and humidity.

Therefore the first cold fronts of the fall season are a welcome relief.  No need to get out the jackets, but it will be refreshing once a cold front passes through the Midlands Saturday night.  The change is noticeable on the 7-day forecast for Columbia.

The 7-day forecast.  Image Credit: WLTX-TV

An Updated View Of Climate Change

The American Meteorological Society updated their statement on climate change last week while much of the country was preoccupied with Hurricane Isaac.  Research has greatly increased our understanding of the climate system and the body of research continues to expand at a rapid pace.  It overwhelmingly supports the consensus that the earth is warming and it is being caused by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

The full statement can be found here.  This newer version is a better read and accessible to the general public.  It is a conservative document and I am sure does not go far enough for some.  However, it is an important one as it represents the position of the society.  It is based on the science and not someone’s ideology or political orientation.  The previous statement on climate change can be found here.

An important point is summarized at the end in the final remarks: