Climate Change

Extreme Climate Change Has Arrived in America, Says The Washington Post

Rising temperatures are mostly happening in the winter and at night.


The Washington Post's front page features "2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT"—an article detailing changes in temperature trends in the U.S. since 1895. The 2-degree Celsius benchmark is taken from the Paris Agreement, a multinational pledge that seeks to keep Earth's average temperature increases "well below" 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

Using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties, the Post reports that major areas in the U.S. are nearing or have already crossed that 2-degree Celsius mark. 

The article opens with a vignette noting that ice no longer reliably forms on Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey. As the Post notes, the average temperature in New Jersey has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895—double the average for the Lower 48 states.

So how did the Post derive its U.S. temperature trend figures?

We calculated annual mean temperature trends in each state and county in the Lower 48 states using linear regression—analyzing both annual average temperatures and temperatures for the three-month winter season (December, January, and February). While not the only approach for analyzing temperature changes over time, this is a widely used method.

As the Post notes, this is not the only way to analyze temperature changes over time. As it happens, a team of researchers from Boise State and Clemson University published an article on trends in extreme U.S. temperatures in the Journal of Climate in 2014 that used a different method for analyzing U.S. temperature trends between 1890 and 2010. For the analysis, the researchers used temperature data taken from the three-quarters of weather stations in the U.S. Historical Climate Network that have nearly complete records. Instead of averaging, they tracked the trends in the maximum and minimum daily monthly temperatures at each station.

What they found is that for maximum temperatures (typically during the day and in summer) 583 of the 923 stations had negative trends with a "warming hole" in the eastern United States that many other researchers had previously noted.

On the map, the color shades run from bright red (the most warming) to deep blue (the most cooling). In aggregate, the researchers report, maximum temperatures are decreasing in the eastern United States, with the exception of New England. In contrast, the western U.S. maximum temperatures are slightly warming for the most part.

What about minimum temperatures, e.g., those that typically occur during the night and in winter? With the exception of two localized pockets in the Southeast and Colorado, the researchers note, cooling is sparse. The Southeast is the most significantly cooling location; confidence that minimum temperatures are warming is comparatively large for the western United States, northern Midwest, and New England.

Overall, the researchers conclude that the U.S. average trend for maximum temperatures is negative -0.468°C per century, while the average trend for minimum temperatures is strongly positive at +1.646°C per century. The fact that winters in the U.S. are becoming warmer explains why fewer lakes like Lake Hopatcong are freezing over.

On the Washington Post temperature trend map, north-central Minnesota is colored bright red, indicating that temperatures in the region have already exceeded the dire 2°C threshold. It appears that Cass Lake is located there, so I decided to check out the average temperatures for that area.

Since most of the warming is occurring during the winter, let's look at average January temperatures: In that frigid month, the average high temperature is 18°F (-8°C) and the average low is -5°F (-21°C). Let's neglect the fact that the way the Washington Post calculated the trends in that area suggests that these averages are already higher due to climate change. Nevertheless, adding an extra 2°C of warming would boost the current winter high average up to 21°F and the average low to -0.4°F.

The map from Journal of Climate researchers shows essentially no increase in maximum temperatures in that part of Minnesota but it does show an increase in minimum temperatures there. Assuming that extra warming is largely channeled into nighttime lows, that suggests a 2°C increase during July would raise the average nighttime low from 56 to 59.5°F.

As the rise in minimum temperatures indicates, climate change in the U.S. is definitely happening. But unless you are a fan of winter (a concept that I personally do not understand) the extremes that most folks will worry about are maximum summertime temperatures.

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  1. And CO2 levels are as high 80,000 years ago as they are today. But it wasn’t human made CO2 and that is different I guess or something

    1. What kind of idiot thinks there were dinosaurs running around 800,000 years ago? That is some seriously uneducated shit.

      1. Haha. Chipper is so dumb he doesn’t understand the person wrote that Dinos lived BEFORE 800,000 years ago.

        hahaha ppl are so stupid “800,000 yrs? WhAt CaUsEd It BeFoR ThEn?!?!?!”

        Dino farts, you dumbasses

      2. What kind of idiot can’t read? That’s a serious case of “stupid” right there.

    2. Fuck – there’s enough emitted from some volcano eruptions to cover all of humanity since the Industrial Age.

    3. The source is pretty irrelevant unless you are into bashing humanity. The real question is whether it will be a problem and if so, what should be done about it. I have no idea what the answer is to either question. I think people will probably adapt just fine to whatever comes.
      Climate change is hardly new, but human civilization is pretty new. It could well be that civilization has emerged in a period of relatively stable climate and that future climate change could make things difficult. But I’m optimistic that we are clever and adaptable enough to keep it going.

  2. Great work, Ron!

  3. Careful Ron, once you start looking at the data you will start to wonder about a lot that our betters say is settled science.

    1. It’s becoming to where we can’t even look at the data as it has been manipulated to high hell.

  4. Can’t wait for Tony to come in and drop all of his scientific facts like how a social science professor proved 95% of climate scientists prove global warming (despite the study being widely panned).

    1. Sounds like a commercial I remember from my youth: “Four out five dentists recommend Trident gum.” Even as kids, we joked that the four were probably paid by Trident, while the fifth was independent.

      Remember when critical thinking was actually a thing?

  5. Almost all of the global temp change is as a result of Siberia, nearly 10% of the world’s landmass, and almost uninhabited, as well as the Urban Heat Island effect, and the addition of so many weather stations around new heat trapping cities in the Northern Hemisphere.

    And the proliferation of Siberian weather stations during the Cold War, and the disappearance of many after the USSR collapsed, means there is no consistent basis to judge what has really happened there.

    1. UHI is indeed a huge effect due to weather station siting. There was a study done by Anthony Watts a few years ago showing that well sited monitors were increasing in warmth much less than urban encroached areas.

      Likewise a lot of the “global” warming is from infill data from regions that have no measurement data to ascertain data from. They use homogeneous algorithms to try to infill data points that are missing which has a huge issue as massive swings between close regional points can occur due to elevation changes and UHI effects.

    2. By the way… my favorite part of the study:

      • Not only does the NOAA USCHNv2 adjustment process fail to adjust poorly sited stations downward to match the well sited stations, but actually adjusts the well sited stations upwards to match the poorly sited stations.

      1. Back a decade ago, they found temp stations on asphalt roofs next to air HVAC exhausts

        1. Those stations still exist. Quite of the recent regional highs that caused journalist panic ended up being exhaust from nearby cars at the times of the highs and had to be retracted quietly the next week.

  6. As the rise in minimum temperatures indicates, climate change in the U.S. is definitely happening. But unless you are a fan of winter (a concept that I personally do not understand) the extremes that most folks will worry about are maximum summertime temperatures.

    If you look at climate history, increasing CO2 concentrations lead to milder, wetter climates across most of the globe, conditions under which mammals and primates thrived. That’s a good thing.

    (Another good thing is that sea level rise may gradually erase DC, NYC, and Miami off the map, all without loss of life.)

    1. Actually, according to the panic mongers in the sixties, NYC and DC went under water in 2000.

  7. It’s slightly warmer at night in the winter? Maybe we should keep doing whatever it is we’re doing.

  8. looks like US pizza.

    1. Bama be chillin

      1. the ricotta

  9. The article opens with a vignette noting that ice no longer reliably forms on Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey.

    Global Warming prevents hell from freezing over.

  10. “As the Post notes, the average temperature in New Jersey has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895—double the average for the Lower 48 states.”

    As would be expected from a state so full of hot air democrats.

  11. Bailey hates winter. And I thought we were finally moving past the War on Christmas.

    1. I guess Bailey is not a skier.

      1. My winter sport is snorkeling.

  12. All concerned humans should immediate stop emitting CO2, including from respiration.

    1. My program is to make it illegal for liberals and lawyers to exhale.

      Even if the planet continues to warm, no one left will whine about it.
      Seriously, do these tax dollar researchers really think they are better than Darwin and/or God?
      Man cannot destroy the planet. Even the all out nuke war over Hong Kong will leave roaches wandering around glowing in the dark and laughing about how humans thought they were hot stuff.

      1. I, for one, welcome our new roach overlords.

      2. The sun will eventually destroy Planet Earth, or Big Freeze, Big Rip, Big Crunch or however life will vanish! Sure, until then we ought to be somewhat civil and organize/encourage global access to clean water, trash collection, education and medicine. Which is already happening! What we should not do is recklessly spend billions and demonize oil, natural gas, nuclear energy and civilization.

  13. I expect a cooler decade from a lack of solar activity, but maybe I’m wrong. I hope the planet is warming- much better for humans.

  14. The ‘analysis’ at the Post is utterly ridiculous and downright irresponsible. They should just say “we don’t understand science.” Most of the supposed warming is in the Southern Oceans, where, conveniently, there are fewer actual instruments so much of the data are results of heavy use of “goal seek.”

    That some places in the US might be hotter, and others colder, is status quo from time immemorial and beyond. I can tell you that in Los Angeles, it’s been relatively cold this year, leading to later blooming of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc. The plants will tell you the truth. There hasn’t been an 80 degree day by the coast in a long time. Maybe 2 all year. Marine layers all the way into mid August. Warming… pfft.

  15. There are really two phenomenon in play:
    1. The U.S. has been warming since the 1880s, but that was an unusually cold period. If your data starts at a low value, your trend will most likely be upward or, at the very least, flat. It is improbable that it would be downward.
    2. Higher night temperatures are indicative of a heat sink which is what urban areas are. Many weather stations that used to be rural or semi-rural have been encroach by urban area which hold the heat more readily than rural sites. This is a well-known, but mostly ignored phenomenon and should have been recognized by The Washington Post.

    1. Liberals actually believe the little ice age is the equilibrium. we still have more deaths from cold weather than hit weather.

      1. “we still have more deaths from cold weather than hit weather.”

        In cases of death by overheating doctors are likely to attribute death to organ failure and so on. as that is the proximate cause though ultimately it’s the heat that does it. Increased temperatures at night aren’t helping either, as humans need to cool down and a lack of differential can spell big trouble especially for the very young and old.

        1. It is amazing how often you are wrong on every point you make. You do realized warming winter nights is generally still in the 30s right? My god how can you be so wrong all of the time.

          1. Hot summer nights can kill, especially the very young and old. A hot summer day may not be enough as we depend on a cooler night to moderate our body temperature. If this differential is decreased, it may spell trouble. Warmer winter nights are not such a problem.

            1. Warmer winter nights are not such a problem.

              Exactly. And that’s what we’re getting.

              Cooler maximums and warmer minimums.

              A ‘milder’ climate.

              1. It’s hotter summer nights you have to worry about. Insufficient night time cooling can actually kill.

        2. “In cases of death by overheating doctors are likely to attribute death to organ failure and so on.”

          You better have a link to a reputable medical journal. Otherwise that is ass-pull wishcasting.

          1. “You better have a link to a reputable medical journal. Otherwise that is ass-pull wishcasting.”

            You can search for your own links.

            1. “You better have a link to a reputable medical journal. Otherwise that is ass-pull wishcasting.”

              You’re engaging noted bullshiter trueman; he has no cites, he makes up shit and posts it.

              mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
              “Spouting nonsense is an end in itself.

            2. “You can search for your own links.”

              You are not a medical professional, as such your statement is not a personal observation. Lacking any substantiation from actual medical professionals an ass-pull it is.

              1. “You are not a medical professional,”

                So ask a medical professional if you want to check up on what I said. Find someone you trust and ask them. I’m not interested in holding your hand.

                1. Fuck off, scumbag liar.

        3. re: “lack of differential can spell big trouble”

          Uhm, no it can’t. Humans are warm-blooded. We also sweat. We are a remarkably temperature-adaptable species. No differential is needed.

          Note that humans survived for millennia before air conditioning and central heating. During those millennia, humans not only survived but thrived in climates all the way from deep desert to arctic tundra.

          re: “it’s the heat that does it”

          No, it’s not. Properly hydrated, humans can survive continuous temperatures over 100F. It is a challenge staying hydrated at those temperatures but again, lots of pre-air-conditioning societies thrived under just those conditions.

          1. By the way, I’m married to a medical professional. She says you’re full of it.

  16. The lede to Ron’s latest is :
    “Rising temperatures are mostly happening in the winter and at night. RONALD BAILEY | 8.14.2019 5:31 PM

    Well, Ron, it is winter, and the middle of night at the South Pole, but the woebegone news down there is that something a lot larger than Lake Hopatchong has been melting over the last years and decades,

    Picking cherries off of climate data maps is a climateball exercise easy as shooting fish in a video game barrel, but it’s a lot harder to shug off ice mass loss measurements made in good Newtonian fashion by gravity satellies.

    1. P.S. :
      Ice that fails to form in the Arctic winter just adds to the rate of overall global loss of ice.

      1. And that has fuck all to do with WaPo’s shitty attempt at science. The scaremongers desperately want to show that the climate change Boogeyman is right outside your window.

    2. Retreating glaciers are revealing tree lines from hundreds of years ago… what other bedtime stories are you frightened of?

      1. Those CAGW Watermelons have a scary fairy tale about the midnight sun warming the deep blue sea and land exposed by ice retreat faster than floating sea ice in the Arctic and antarctic alike

        How can any reasonable Reason person believe in a bedtime story like albedo feedback?

        1. Since you link to, I assume that your comments above were sarcastic. If so, yes, albedo feedback is a bit of a bedtime story. Or more accurately, the media hype and misinterpretations about albedo feedback are severe.

          The albedo feedback hypothesis says that ice and snow are white and reflect sun and heat while deep water and land are darker and absorb heat. If things initially get warm enough to melt the ice and snow, the exposed darker surfaces absorb more heat, causing more melting, and the cycle continues.

          The albedo feedback hypothesis is pretty good at explaining large-scale changes such as the end of the Snowball Earth phase of the planet’s geologic history. The hypothesis breaks down, however, when applied to current polar conditions. Specifically, the proponents of albedo feedback as a factor in current climate have ignored the polar seasons caused by the earth’s axial tilt. It doesn’t matter that the pole is covered by highly reflective ice and snow in winter because that part of the planet is in 6 months of darkness regardless. There’s no light to be reflected. The hypothesis could be relevant during the polar summer – but it’s largely not. The Arctic Ocean was melting regardless. No albedo feedback has been measured despite years of trying. On the Antarctic, to be blunt, there’s not enough land exposed even in the warmest summer for the effect to be significant.

          There is, however, some very interesting evidence linking albedo and melting to pollution patterns. Soot and other dark particulate matter make a big difference in the surface melting of polar terrain. I’ve not seen any research that I think does a very good job quantifying the effect we have on polar climate through pollution but the existence of the effect is uncontrovertible. And even the lower bound of that effect is sufficient to explain much of the observed variance in polar ice conditions.

  17. If I understand those maps correctly, the average daily high temperatures for a large part of the US are not as high as they used to be and the average daily lows are not as low as they used to be, temperature extremes are not as extreme as they used to be. The temperature is moderating and we’re supposed to panic?

    1. “The temperature is moderating and we’re supposed to panic?”

      Yes. Not only that, we are expected to pay for the moderation with more taxes and higher energy costs.

  18. “The 2-degree Celsius benchmark is taken from the Paris Agreement, a multinational pledge that seeks to keep Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.”

    To which China is adhering rigorously, no doubt.

    1. It appears they are preparing to make substantial reductions in human CO2 emissions in Hong Kong in the near future.

      1. good point!

        1. The WaPo, especially Capital Weather Gang, is the Vatican of the climate change cult, led by pope Chris Mooney. Every single thing they post somehow mentions climate change at least once. All weather is climate change according to them

          1. The current escalation of climate rhetoric owes much to an April 2019 Columbia School of Journalism conference organized by The Nation Institute, with funding by PBS icon Bill Moyers :


    2. “To which China is adhering rigorously, no doubt.”

      And oh, the irony:
      “At this point will the Paris Agreement’s climate goals be met?”
      “Not a chance. The original agreement was 197 countries, of which only 45 agreed to provide funding for the Green Climate Fund. Of the 45, only three have even come close to meeting their financial obligations.
      The US, which pulled out, leads the world in CO2 reductions without any government policy. Germany, the “world leader” in renewable energy crippled itself by ditching clean nuclear and is now turning back to coal and gas imported from Russia – a huge threat to their national security.”

      The first paragraph sort of tells you what the “agreement” was really about; re-distibution of wealth.
      The second shows the relative effectiveness of the market and gov’t dictates.
      Thank goodness Trump took us out of that mess.

  19. The only problem with higher lows in Minnesota is that fewer agricultural pests are killed in the coldest part of the winter. Also, less cold will encourage more (as the locals say) riff-raff to move in.

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