image: UCAR--much bigger image here
Back in November scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and other equally prestigious organizations informed us that since the 1980s record highs have been outpacing record lows. And last year the ratio was more than 3:2--a normal ratio over time is about 1:1. Well, since the recent snows across Europe and cold snaps across much of the United States have brought the "it's cold today so global warming must be a scam" crowd out in droves, I thought (through Joe Romm's inspiration) that bringing back the graphic above is appropriate. UCAR's image caption:
This graphic shows the ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows observed at about 1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States from January 1950 through September 2009. Each bar shows the proportion of record highs (red) to record lows (blue) for each decade. The 1960s and 1970s saw slightly more record daily lows than highs, but in the last 30 years record highs have increasingly predominated, with the ratio now about two-to-one for the 48 states as a whole.
Looking forward, the same researchers say that under a business as usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario but 2050 the ratio of record highs to record lows in the United States is likely to be 20:1, and by 2100 it could increase to 50:1.
January Won't Turn Into July, Even With Things Getting Really Bad...
All of which brings us back to a notion worth remembering: There will still be record lows and cold in the future (and now) even as greenhouse gas concentrations increase, it's just that they will continue to get less and less frequent. Romm has been glibly and accurately stating it, climate change won't turn January into July. But it can still very much reek havoc with ecosystems and society.