'Meteorological March madness' only slimly related to climate change -- analysis
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Climate change had only a marginal influence over the spate of warm weather experienced by much of the United States in March, a new federal analysis says.
Most of the warm spell, which averaged 18 degrees higher than normal March temperatures, is attributable to winds blowing up from the Gulf of Mexico, said Martin Hoerling, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
To understand how climate change might have contributed to those conditions, Hoerling analyzed temperatures over the course of several decades and found that since 2001, March has been about 2 degrees hotter than the historical average.
That would account for a little more than 10 percent of the record heat levels experienced in 2012. "Climate change was certainly a factor, but it was certainly a minor factor," he said.
According to Hoerling, low pressure in the Pacific Northwest and high pressure in New England created a kind of climatic gutter running the length of the United States, pulling up hot wind from the south.
While such conditions often manifest for a day or two during the winter, it is seldom the case that they occur for several weeks at a time. Hoerling described the length of this year's heat wave as a once-in-a- century event.
"This is not the new reality," he said (Seth Borenstein, AP/Spokesman Review, April 2). -- NM
Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net. 202-628-6500
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