The numbers are in and we just had another scorching January. From the National Climate Data Center at the NOAA:
According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January 2014 was the highest since 2007 and the fourth highest for January since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 38th consecutive January and 347th consecutive month (almost 29 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average January global temperature was January 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985.
That was news to me. Much of my weekend was spent using a one-two combination of snow-shovel and drill to plant campaign signs in the frozen earth. And that’s the problem with climate change politics in a nutshell. We experience weather and we mistake it for climate.
It’s been very cold this year in Chicago, but here’s what’s interesting about that from a climate perspective, again from the NOAA report:
Temperature departures were below the long-term average across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Mexico, and much of Russia. However, no regions of the globe were record cold.
Though locally we’ve had some climatologically interesting summers in recent years, this winter was only extraordinary because it’s outside the recent local norm. And also because it has been weird. Extremely weird. That weirdness is the only dimension of climate change that we reliably perceive. That makes it very difficult to communicate the reality and impact of climate change to a public who do not generally understand the underlying science.