Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

'The Trend Is Unmistakable': New Analysis Shows Heat Records Broken Twice as Often as Cold Ones

Climate
Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.


The study was conducted by The Associated Press, which reviewed nearly a century's worth of data and spoke with climatologists who confirmed the reporters' conclusions about more frequent hot days and fewer cold ones align with scientific peer-reviewed findings. According to the experts, "the trend is unmistakable."

"We are in a period of sustained and significant warming," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, "and — over the long run — will continue to explore and break the warm end of the spectrum much more than the cold end."

Outlining its research and findings, the news agency reported:

The AP looked at 424 weather stations throughout the Lower 48 states that had consistent temperature records since 1920 and counted how many times daily hot temperature records were tied or broken and how many daily cold records were set. In a stable climate, the numbers should be roughly equal.
Since 1999, the ratio has been two warm records set or broken for every cold one. In 16 of the last 20 years, there have been more daily high temperature records than low...

In all, 87 percent of the weather stations had more hot records than cold since 1999. There have been 42 weather stations that have at least five hot records for every cold one since 1999, with 11 where the hot-to-cold ratio is 10-to-1 or higher.

"As a measure of climate change, the dailies [temperature records] will tell you more about what's happening," explained Stanford climate scientist Chris Field. "The impacts of climate change almost always come packaged in extremes."

"You are getting more extremes," added former Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, who has been studying hot and cold records since 2000. "Your chances for getting more dangerous extremes are going up with time."

The AP report illustrates a vital point that can become muddled in conversations about weather and climate — especially when people such as President Donald Trump repeatedly cast doubt on the scientific consensus that human activity is driving global temperature rise, imperiling future generations of all species and the planet.

Global warming does not mean there will never be cold weather — but if the international community stays on its business-as-usual path of burning fossil fuels and polluting the planet with reckless abandon, the likeliness of extremely cold days will continue to decline. And, whether the weather is cold or hot on any given day, as Arndt noted, "The extremes affect our lives."

The analysis comes as the Midwestern United States is enduring "biblical" and "catastrophic" flooding and while regions of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are still reeling from the devastating Tropical Cyclone Idai, whose death toll is expected to exceed 1,000 people. From cyclones and hurricanes to droughts and wildfires, study after study continues to show that human-caused global warming is making extreme weather more common and costly, both in terms of dollar signs and human lives.

The mounting devastation does seem to have an upside, though: A growing number of people are concerned about the climate crisis, and those worries have generated mounting demands for bold efforts to cut emissions and enact systemic changes. Just last week, more than 1.4 million students around the worldvskipped school to participate in a climate strike, inspired by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg.

"We need to start cooperating and sharing the remaining resources of this planet in a fair way. We need to start living within the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species," Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden, wrote on Sunday in a Facebook post targeting adults and policymakers.

"We are just passing on the words of the science," she added. "Our only demand is that you start listening to it. And then start acting."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less