We Just Had the Hottest January in 141 Years of Record Keeping
In the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures were, on average, 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal last month, making it the warmest January on Earth since comprehensive records have been kept starting 141 years ago, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as The Guardian reported.
In some places, the abnormal temperatures were extreme. Norway's capital, Oslo, which usually sees people skiing down snow-laden streets, was without snow in January, as Reuters reported. Boston, which is usually unbearable in January, saw back-to-back 70-degree days on the second weekend of the month, as Weather.com reported. The Swedish town of Örebro reached 50.5 degrees Fahrenheit, its hottest January temperature since 1858, according to The Guardian.
The unusual warmth disproportionately affected Russia, Scandinavia and Eastern Canada, where temperatures were an incredible 9 degrees Fahrenheit above average, or higher, as The Guardian reported.
This January's warming trend is especially surprising since it happened without an El Niño system in the tropical Pacific Ocean, according to NOAA. The government agency noted that a lot of regions were experiencing new records. "Record-warm temperatures were seen across parts of: Scandinavia, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the central and western Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and Central and South America. No land or ocean areas had record-cold January temperatures," NOAA said in its summary.
NOAA also noted that the four warmest Januaries in the climate record have happened since 2016, while the 10 warmest have all occurred since 2002.
This above-average trend is likely to continue in 2020, likely making this year one of the five hottest on record, according to statistical analysis done by NOAA, as CNN reported.
The report also found extensive sea-ice melt. The warmer temperatures meant Arctic ice coverage was 5.3 percent below average. On the other end of the world, Antarctic sea ice coverage was reported to be 9.8 percent below average, according to The Hill. That trend is likely to continue since Antarctica just recorded its two hottest days ever this week, reaching nearly 70 degrees on Sunday.
If you are looking for winter in January, it was in Alaska and Western Canada. NOAA said "notable cool temperatures" were recorded in January across much of Alaska and parts of Western Canada, with temperatures 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit below average or less, as CBS News reported.
The cold temperatures were notable in Alaska since it was the first time in 22 months that Alaska had a month with below average temperatures.
We did it!!! January 2020 was the first below normal temperature month in 22 consecutive months! The last time was… https://t.co/VW5bW8leY4— NWS Anchorage (@NWS Anchorage)1580601128.0
"We did it!" The National Weather Service in Anchorage tweeted. "January 2020 was the first below normal temperature month in 22 consecutive months! The last time was February of 2018. It was the 8th coldest January and also the 14th coldest month on record. If you felt like January was cold…you were right!!!"
The NOAA results piggyback on the Copernicus Climate Change Service's results. Copernicus, the European equivalent of NOAA, said last week that last month was Europe's warmest January ever with temperatures 3.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the usual temperatures recorded from 1981-2010, according to a statement it released last week.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.