Remember when your teacher would announce that the test you did not study for last week was graded on a curve? You were really excited right. Well this weeks release of research linking extreme summer heat to global warming uses the same bell curve to analyze climate change.
NASA scientist James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York is the lead author of the study that shows that the bell curve of climate temperature is going up and there are more outliers meaning extreme weather that has never been seen before.
Hansen and his team used statistics of weather temperatures from 1951 to 1980 as the average or base line temperature and compared it with the temperature for 1980 to the present. They used the 1951-1980 time frame because weather temperatures were largely unchanged in that time period.
The research showed that the temperature on Earth is climbing rapidly in the last 30 years. There are more warm summers and mild winters. More of the world is experiencing hotter summers it is not just in the US.
Hansen and his colleagues are no strangers to warning that this could happen, in 1988 his colleagues anticipated this and presented on this topic. They were actually wrong, the global temperature has risen faster than they thought and most importantly there are more “extremely hot” summer temperatures.
“Extremely hot” is defined as a mean summer temperature experienced by less than one percent of Earth’s land area between 1951 and 1980. But since 2006, about 10 percent of land area across the Northern Hemisphere has experienced these temperatures each summer.
So what about the climate change naysayers. They will say “how can you explain that really cold and snowy winter in the northeast in 2011?” Hansen responds to that saying “… it’s still a crapshoot and you shouldn’t take one cool season as an indication that there’s something wrong with our understanding of global temperature and warming.”
Hansen and his team have been reporting on this change for years they released a study in 1998 showing that their hypothesis in 1988 was coming true and that there was already a trend of hot summers and not a consistent trend of cold winters to offset.
In January, of this year, Hansen released research notes on this study with this startling fact: The first 11 years of the 21st century experienced notably higher temperatures compared to the middle and late 20th century, Hansen said. The only year from the 20th century in the top 10 warmest years on record is 1998.
Apparently Hansen has understood this was an issue for decades now yet this summers extreme weather is making Americans pay more attention.
Did you realize this year is already the hottest year in US history on record? It is also the 11th hottest on record for the entire world!
Do you have any good tips on how to keep cool? We need them.
This amazing image is from www.azrainman.com (check out his blog) that I found on Flickr Creative Commons. Azrainman does not endorse anything that is written here.