NOAA predicts: The heat is coming


N.O.A.A., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reported that January was the warmest month in 141 years of record keeping. And if the trend continues, NOAA predicts that there is a 50% chance of 2020 being the warmest year ever.

The average global temperatures last month were 2.05 F above the usual levels. 2016 was the prior record-holder, and the top ten warmest years have all occurred since 2004.

We are living in a changed world and urgently need to begin transforming our energy systems that produce CO2 emissions.

That January saw record warmth was unexpected because we are not in the middle of an El Nino event, when warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean produce warmer temperatures worldwide. In fact El Nino ended last year, resulting in closer-to-normal ocean temperatures. Nonetheless, January temperatures in most of the world’s regions were warmer than average. Eastern Europe, Russia, Australia (with its draughts and fires,) and Eastern China were all much warmer. Only central India was cooler than average.

This warming was the case in most of the United States and Canada, but Alaska experienced relatively cool temperatures.

NOAA forecasts, however, a return to above-average temperatures in Alaska, further depleting the sea ice and allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb more solar radiation, which in turn increases the warming.

Already the Missouri and Mississippi valleys have seen heavy rains, as they did last year, leading to flooding through the Midwest and South, and more is forecast during a wet spring for the eastern half of the country.

Locally, Carnegie Lake has never frozen enough to permit skating this winter, and while we’ve had much rain, very little snow has fallen.

While the eastern United States receives days and days of rain, California and the Southwest continue with their dry months, leading to droughts and fires.

Although a majority of Americans acknowledge and understand the causes of global warming ( largely resulting from man producing CO2 emissions,) some (including the Republican Senate and the President,) outright deny the facts, work to undo policies designed to reduce emissions, or just ignore the situation. Refusing to respond may well be the most dangerous threat to our wellbeing that we face – our nation’s and the world’s.

The sad facts are that, as NOAA’s data has long revealed, temperature and humidity levels are relatively simple to measure and record. In many regions of our country, a person need do no more than step outside regularly to note temperatures, the weather, and weather impacts. (The changes to flora and fauna around us.)

Fortunately our Governor Murphy, and a number in other state leaders, are formulating climate action plans. (As is the town of Princeton.) But elsewhere, and really across the country, citizens need to become aware of the changes unfolding, and they need to speak out! – Call for still other leaders in governments and the private sectors (businesses and institutions,) to take the necessary steps. NOAA has documented our recent, record-breaking past and warns us of our future.