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More Than Just Wacky Weather

Posted: 4:17PM February 8th, 2012 | Comments

This morning as I strapped on my helmet and prepared for a chilly ride to work, I had to remind myself that 14 degrees on a February morning is not actually especially cold. Any normal winter, I would be used to rinding in even colder temperatures.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the contiguous US experienced its 4rth warmest January on record. The winter period of December 2011 to January 2012 was also the4rth warmest in the 117-year record. And it will be no surprise to those of you in Madison, the average US snow extent during January was the 3rd smallest January snow cover extent in the 46-year period of record (as reported by Jeff Masters on his WonderBlog).

According to Masters "in isolation, the strange winter weather of 2011-2012 could be a natural rare occurance, but there have been way too many strange atmospheric events in the past 2 years for them all to be simply an unusually long run of natural extremes. Something is definitely up with the weather, and it is clear to me that over the past two years, the climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare and uprecedented weather events. Human emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide are the most likely cause of such a shift in the climate..."

The evidence that the climate is changing is all around us. We just need to accept it and translate that knowledge into action. Even among the informed, I observe a general lack of urgency in the American citizenry around climate change mitigation and adaptation. The time for action is now. As Masters states, it is easier to deflect a boulder rolling downhill early in its course, before it gains too much momentum.

Need a reason to act? Check out Climate Wisconsin: Stories from a State of Change for evidence of Wisconsin's changing climate and a look at how it will impact the activities we love and depend on.


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