Quantcast

'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

Juvenile hatchery salmon flushed from a tanker truck in San Francisco Bay, California. Ben Moon

That salmon sitting in your neighborhood grocery store's fish counter won't look the same to you after watching Artifishal, a new film from Patagonia.

Read More Show Less
Natdanai Pankong / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Coconut meat is the white flesh inside a coconut.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Taylor Jones, RD

Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

Read More Show Less
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Logging shown as part of a thinning and restoration effort in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon on Oct. 22, 2014. Oregon Department of Forestry / CC BY 2.0

The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

Read More Show Less
Homes in Washington, DC's Brookland neighborhood were condemned to clear room for a highway in the 1960s. The community fought back. Brig Cabe / DC Public Library

By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia

In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."

Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

Read More Show Less