Report Shows: U.S. States Are Warming

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US States Warming

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It’s no secret that the U.S. is facing atypical weather with a shorter, but more intense, winters and extreme heat in the summers. In fact, estimates have found that over the past century, the temperatures have  hiked up 1.3°F a year.

An analysis of data from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network of weather stations shows that the coldest states are warming the fastest, and across the country winter warming since 1970 has been more than fourand-a-half times faster per decade than over the past 100 years,” reports Climate Central. “Winter nights across the country have warmed about 30 percent faster than nights over the whole year. Some states cooled or failed to join the warming trend over the past 100 years, but since 1970, every state has shown winter-warming.”

Climate Central shares their findings:

  • Since 1970, winters in the top 5 fastest-warming states — Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Vermont and South Dakota — heated up four-and-a-half times faster than winters in the 5 slowest-warming states: Nevada, California, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington.
  • Winter warming accelerated almost everywhere since 1970, and all states have warmed since that time. Nationwide since 1970, winters warmed more than four-and-a-half times faster per decade than over the past 100 years.
  • In contrast, over the past century, winters in 13 states — 10 in the South — bucked the warming trend and either cooled significantly or exhibited a non-significant slight cooling trend.
  • Winter nights have warmed in all but one of the lower 48 states since 1970. Across the continent, winter nighttime temperatures have warmed about 30 percent faster than nighttime temperatures over the entire year. Since 1970, overnight winter temperatures in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont have warmed faster than 1.29°F per decade, or more than 5°F in just 43 years.
  • Since 1912, states with average winter temperatures below 32°F warmed three times faster than states with average temperatures above 32°F. Since 1970, winter warming has accelerated almost everywhere and states that previously cooled began to warm in winter. Yet, the coldest states (below 32°F) have still warmed nearly twice as fast as the rest of the country on average. And during that time, winter nights in the coldest states warmed up to five times faster than those in warm states.
  • The pattern of winter warming is different than the pattern of warming throughout the whole year, which was illustrated in Climate Central’s June 2012 analysis of annual temperatures, The Heat is On. Some of the fastest-warming states overall, such as Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, have had some of the slowest-warming winters, both since 1970 and over the past 100 years.

And there’s some substance to that claim: A soon-to-be published study has found that the rise of blizzards are a result of man-made global warming and that winter is becoming shorter, but stronger.

“The answer lies in atmospheric physics,” writes The Huffington Post. ”A warmer atmosphere can hold, and dump, more moisture, snow experts say.”

The Huffington Post shares evidence of the rise in blizzards:

— The United States has been walloped by twice as many of the most extreme snowstorms in the past 50 years than in the previous 60 years, according to an upcoming study on extreme weather by leading federal and university climate scientists. This also fits with a dramatic upward trend in extreme winter precipitation — both rain and snow — in the Northeastern U.S. charted by the National Climatic Data Center.

— Yet the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University says that spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has shrunk on average by 1 million square miles in the last 45 years.

— And an upcoming study in the Journal of Climate says computer models predict annual global snowfall to shrink by more than a foot in the next 50 years. The study’s author said most people live in parts of the United States that are likely to see annual snowfall drop between 30 and 70 percent by the end of the century.

“Shorter snow season, less snow overall, but the occasional knockout punch,” Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said to The Huffington Post. “That’s the new world we live in.”

  • Susmita Baral

    Susmita is a writer and editor in the Greater New York City area. In her spare time, Susmita enjoys cooking, traveling, dappling in photography, art history and interior design, and moonlighting as a therapist for her loved ones.

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