Weather Records and Climate Change Deniers


It’s official: Alaska had the warmest calendar year since record-keeping started in 1918. According to the National Climate Data Center:

The average statewide temperature for Alaska during 2014 was 4.0°F above the 1971-2000 average. This ranked as the warmest year on record for Alaska in a period of record that dates back to 1918. The previous warmest year on record occurred in 1926, and 2014 was 0.2°F warmer.

And it wasn’t even an El Niño year, when historically Alaska temperatures have averaged warmer. One year is weather, of course, not climate. But a 10 year moving average of the last half century would have a strong, rising slope. Despite U.S. Senator Dan “the Carpetbagger” Sullivan’s (R, Ohio, Maryland, D.C.) claims that “the jury is out,” it’s getting warmer folks.

The climate models predicted that warming would be greatest in western Alaska, as the Bering Sea warmed, and along the arctic coast, as the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas warmed. Almost exactly as predicted,

[S]everal towns in western Alaska had their warmest year on record including Nome, Bethel, McGrath, King Salmon, Homer, and Cold Bay. Anchorage had its second warmest year while Barrow had its third warmest year. In Anchorage, the temperature never dropped below 0°F during 2014, marking the first year that has occurred in a 101-year period of record.

According to NOAA:

The year started off warm in Alaska with the seventh warmest winter and eighth spring on record, with temperatures 6.7°F and 3.1°F above average, respectively. Things weren’t quite as warm during the summer, but were still warmer than average. June-August ranked as the 16th warmest, with much of the warmth occurring in August, which was the fourth warmest for the state. The summer average temperature was 0.9°F above average. Autumn ranked as the 10th warmest on record, with the year ending on a warm note with the fifth warmest December. The autumn average temperature was 3.6°F above average, while December was 8.1°F warmer than average.

It’s not just Alaska; the reports for the contiguous 48 states tell a similar story:

In 2014, the contiguous United States (CONUS) average temperature was 52.6°F, 0.5°F above the 20th century average, and tied with 1977 as the 34th warmest year in the 120-year period of record. 2014 was slightly warmer than 2013 for the CONUS when the annual average temperature was 52.4°F. This marks the 18th consecutive year with an annual average temperature above the 20th century average for the CONUS. The last year with a below-average CONUS temperature was 1996. Since 1895, when national temperature records began, the CONUS has observed an average temperature increase of 0.13°F per decade. (Emphasis added)

This latest evidence gives Senator Sullivan an opportunity to gracefully change his position. He could say, for example, “The latest evidence has caused me to change my position, anthropogenic climate change is real. We need to regulate CO2 emissions.” Or, if he is a creature of the energy industry Kochtopus, as WC has suggested, he will do and say nothing. If cornered on the question, where he can’t avoid some kind of answer, he’ll deny warming is real, that it is a result fossil fuels-generated CO2, and claim the science is “uncertain.”

Perhaps WC will be pleasantly surprised. But probably not.