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From local to global, it is warming

According to NASA, worldwide temperatures for the month of October were the second warmest measurement in 136 years of modern record-keeping. (Photo: NASA)

(WHAM) - In our little corner of the globe, Rochester continues to have an extraordinary year of weather. The Flower City has had six consecutive months of warmer than normal temperatures. In addition, it was the 7th warmest October since 1949 (54.2°F). Now that statistic may not seem exceptional, but when you compare the temperature the rest of the globe – well, you’ll see that we are just a small part of the big picture!

According to NASA, worldwide temperatures for the month of October were the second warmest measurement in 136 years of modern record-keeping. In addition, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) reports the top three October temperature anomalies have been in the past three years and the top ten October temperature anomalies have all occurred since the year 2000 with 2015 being the hottest on record. The monthly analysis by GISS is assembled by acquiring data from 6,300 meteorological stations around the world.

So why all the warmth? Certainly the residual effects of the El Nino this past year had a big impact. The El Nino is a warming phase of the equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. This has a huge impact on the global weather pattern. But a likely candidate for amplifying this warming is the increasing amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane which is entering our atmosphere each year. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and as CO2 rises so does the temperature. Thus, the balance of greenhouse gases, is an extremely important component of a ‘healthy’ climate.

Over the last century, humans have burned coal, oil, and gasoline in our cars, trucks, planes, trains, power plants, and factories at an increasing rate. Burning fossil fuels produces CO2 as a waste product. Putting so much new CO2 into the air has made Earth warmer. This is why so many scientists are concerned we will cause even more warming if we continue on our current path.

I want to be clear that there will be many more fluctuations in this global weather pattern and we still have plenty of cold, snowy winters to come. But the long term trend, over years and decades, will be a gradual incline in the worldwide temperature. That has severe implications on sea level, precipitation patterns, heat waves, agriculture, animal migration and the timing of seasonal events.

For the average person it is very difficult to comprehend this change on a day to day bases. I once heard a noted scientist give an interesting analogy. He stated that “climate change is similar to old age. You may not see it coming, but all of a sudden it will be there”. And we know there is no turning back with old age.

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