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Warmest January, ever

Year after year, we continue to see the warmest January weather ever reported. [1] While many of the effects of climate change can be subtle or go unnoticed, warmer winters are something that makes the average person stop and take notice. Keep reading to learn more about this alarming trend, what’s causing it, and how you can fight against global warming.

The January 2020 Heat Wave

The first January of the new decade, January 2020, saw record-breaking temperatures in many parts of the world—with some temperatures were more than 30 degrees above average! This heatwave engulfed much of the eastern part of the United States and set new highs that have never been seen since recording began. Boston, for example, started keeping records back in the 1870s, and this January broke some unprecedented records, including the most back-to-back 70 degree days ever recorded in January. [2]

Warming Trends Around The World

The warming trend is not unique to the U.S. Many places around the world have experienced increasingly warm weather in January. On a day where people usually go skiing, residents of Norway were instead swimming to take advantage of the highest recorded temperature ever at a high of 66 degrees. [3]

More Than a Decade of Warming in January

Unfortunately, increasing warm weather in January is not new. In fact, we’ve been covering this developing story on our footprint blog for some time. Over a decade ago, in 2010, we had the following to say on the subject:

Europe is freezing and the Eastern U.S. just experienced a snow-pocolypse, so surely the whole global warming thing must be wrong, right?

According to the latest satellite data analyzed by climate scientist and IPCC member Neville Nicholls, this last January was hotter than any previously recorded January. [4]

It’s not just January either – it was the entire decade:
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in December that 2000-2009 was the hottest decade since records began in 1850, and that 2009 would likely be the fifth warmest year on record. WMO data show that eight out of the 10 hottest years on record have all been since 2000.

It’s hard, sometimes, to accept pervasive trend data as accurate when personal experience contradicts it. In a similar way, you might be understandably skeptical of your town’s assessment that crime is down if you’ve just been robbed and so has your neighbor. It’s crucial, though, to remember that snow storms in winter are weather events, and global average temperature is a measure of our whole climate. No single weather event – including disastrous ones like Hurricane Katrina or the recent blizzards on the East coast – are directly caused by a changing climate. But scientists are telling us that increased warming of the climate can and will lead to more and stronger weather events, both hot and cold.

What is Causing Global Warming?

Unless things begin to change on a global scale, warmer weather in January may become the new normal. Most climate scientists agree that not only is global warming happening, but it is predominantly caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases, like C02, as a direct result of burning fossil fuels for things like energy, transportation, and more. [5]

Ways You Can Help Make a Difference

While the outlook for our climate in January 2020 and beyond may seem bleak, there are actions that individuals and businesses can take now to lessen their impact and reduce their carbon footprint. You can start by measuring your monthly impact by using our online carbon calculator. This free tool will help you measure your influence so you can help reduce your footprint both in January and throughout the year.

SOURCES:

  1. Chow, Denise. “Earth Just Had Its Hottest January in Recorded History.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 14 Feb. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/earth-just-had-its-hottest-january-recorded-history-n1136426.
  2. Livingston, Ian. “A January Heat Wave Engulfed the Eastern Half of the Country, Toppling Records.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Jan. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/01/13/january-heat-wave-engulfed-eastern-half-country-toppling-records/.
  3. “Norway Records Warmest Ever January Day at 19C.” BBC News, BBC, 2 Jan. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50971446.
  4. Fogarty, David. “World Warming Unhindered by Cold Spells: Scientists.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 25 Feb. 2010, www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-warming/world-warming-unhindered-by-cold-spells-scientists-idUSTRE61O16A20100225.
  5. “Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?” NASA, NASA, 30 Dec. 2019, climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.


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