Friday, October 2, 2009

Summer Blues

It’s Getting Cold in Here?

Summer Temperatures in the U.S. Below Average


In the Southwest, it seemed hot as blazes this past summer. L.A., San Diego, Las Vegas, on many days seemed even hotter than recent years. Florida blazed and Texas cooked. However, many other states experienced cooler temperatures this summer, such as Chicago, Minneapolis, even Atlanta. How can this happen simultaneously?

Climate change doesn’t always result in hotter temperatures. Weird weather patterns of recent years can go either way it would seem.

SummerBlues(June-Aug)The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center recently released a preliminary temperature analysis that compared this year’s average summer temperature with the long-term summer average across the U.S. The analysis found that the 2009 average summer temperature was below average, making this summer the 34th coolest summer in the U.S since 1895.

It’s getting cold in here

According to NOAA’s analysis, the average summer temperature in 2009 was 71.7 degrees F, which is one degree below the 2008 temperature average and 0.4 degrees below the 20th century average. Only eight out of the 50 states were above normal while the remaining states were either near normal or below normal temperatures. The Midwest was way below normal; there were over 300 low temperature records there on August 30-31.

I’m singing in the rain

SummerBlues(June-Aug2)The NOAA also highlighted precipitation trends for the summer as well. While the Northeast region experienced its eighth wettest summer on record, the South, Southeast and Southwest regions were drier than average. Arizona had its third driest summer, being one of the three states (the other states were Georgia and South Carolina) to have precipitation levels much below normal. In August, precipitation levels in the U.S. averaged 2.34 inches, 0.26 inches below the 1901-2000 average.

It’s Climate Change, not Global Warming

What does all this data mean and why does it matter? The Earth goes through natural periods of warming and cooling, but these temperature changes can be accelerated by human activity, such as CO2 emissions and pollution. According to The ABCs of Climate Change, climate change is caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, which form a gas blanket and trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere. While greenhouse gases can come naturally, humans can generate greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide by the burning of fossil fuels, like coal, natural gas, and oil. These greenhouse gases can cause changes in global weather, climate, and even sea levels, which disrupt ecosystems around the world. However, there are many opportunities to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, such as driving less, going paperless, and recycling.

For more information

NOAA National Climatic Data Center

The ABCS of Climate Change

Columbia University: Climate Change Information

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