Late Week Southeast U.S. Record Warmth And New 2018 Climatology
Wednesday February 6th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials). 😉
Finally both NASA and NOAA have processed the final numbers for 2018 with about a one month delay due to the U.S. government shutdown. There were no surprises here as statistics indicated that 2018 had its fourth warmest year globally on record since records started to be kept in 1880.
Before delving into some climate stat particulars I do want to point out a big “ET” alert for the United States. It appears that my neck of the woods, the Southeast, will see numerous record highs both today and particularly on Thursday. For example, Atlanta will get close to 80F, which should be extraordinary given that the average max in early February is 54F. The daily record for Thursday is 72F, so we should see record temperatures shattered by many degrees.
Want to see how and why this record warm regime is taking place? First at the surface very warm air will be pumped northward ahead of a front with better than 564 decameter 500-1000 millibar thickness (in met speak):
The high thickness values should translate into temperatures in the 70s and 80s from Florida as far north as the Middle Atlantic area. A powerful winter storm will affect the Midwest. As we have seen many times the record warm atmosphere to the southeast of the storm will hold relatively more moisture than that for a cooler more typical air mass for February, so some precipitation records may fall, as well. More snow due to global warming?….That continues to be so counterintuitive but true.
Here we see another warm dome of air at 500 millibars over the Southeast, which will also be key to produce that record warmth on Thursday:
Tremendous positive anomalies will extend northward through New England into southern Canada on Thursday. The winter storm and associated front should put a kibosh on the record heat Friday.
Now let’s switch to part two of today’s discussion. The following information concerning the global warming trend should be quite alarming. Let’s start by presenting Climate Central’s summary, which came out this morning:
2018 Global Temp Review: Land & Ocean
- Published: February 6th, 2019
By Climate Central
At long last, the government is open and the year-end climate reports from NOAA and NASA are out. As expected, 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record globally, and another near-record year for U.S. weather and climate disasters. All of the years on record that were hotter or more disaster-filled came in the past decade.
To bring context to the global goal of limiting warming to 2°C, we compare the global temperatures to an earlier, pre-industrial 1880-1910 baseline. 2018’s global temperatures were 1.90°F (1.06°C) above that baseline — more than halfway there. This made 2018 the second-warmest year on record without an El Niño event, behind only 2017. (El Niño can enhance warming, but it can’t explain all of it). Only 2016 and 2015 were warmer years, and 2014 rounds out the top five. With the five warmest years on record happening during the past five years — and the 20 warmest occurring over the past 22 — a consistent warming trend couldn’t be clearer. Meanwhile, monthly averaged atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen to 411 ppm at Mauna Loa Observatory, thanks in part to an estimated 2.7 percent increase in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.
While the U.S. had its 14th-warmest year in 2018, unusual heat in Europe and the Arctic propelled the globe to higher numbers. The oceans also had their warmest year on record — a trend that intensifies sea level rise, coral bleaching, and tropical cyclones such as hurricanes.
Hurricanes hit the U.S. especially hard, leading 2018’s near-record list of 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. Hurricanes Michael and Florence combined for at least $49 billion in damages — over half of the total from the year’s included events (cost estimates will be updated over time). In addition, the Western wildfire season was the most expensive ever, with total damages of at least $24 billion. Even the sheer number of billion-dollar events is telling — only 2011, 2016, and 2017 have had more. Unless we rapidly reduce our climate-warming emissions, these costly climate disasters will only get worse.
Methodology: Calculations of average annual global temperature are performed independently at NASA and NOAA. Small differences in their calculations arise as NASA’s calculations are extrapolated to account for polar locations with poor station coverage, while NOAA relies more heavily on the polar station data. Climate Central compares temperatures to an earlier 1880-1910 baseline to assess warming during the industrial era.
National temperatures and disaster data are provided by NOAA. Cost of the disasters has been adjusted for inflation. NOAA combines all Western wildfires together as one annual event. Additional review of the methodology can be found from Smith and Katz, 2013.
Here is more information and graphics from both NASA and NOAA:
Here is more weather and climate news from Wednesday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity.)
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The Climate Guy