Record cold and record warm temperatures across the planet can cause major and widespread impacts to life and property.
Record cold and record warm temperatures across the planet can cause major and widespread impacts to life and property. But how frequent are these extreme temperature events? How do the frequencies of record warm events and record cold events compare, and have their relative frequencies changed over time?
A new product, funded by the NOAA Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring Program, provides historical perspectives on occurrences of record warm and record cold average monthly temperatures across the globe from 1951 to the present. It is now part of the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information’s (NCEI) regular climate monitoring activities as a fully automated product.
“The new product allows NOAA to better articulate indicators and impacts of climate change in a manner that is readily accessible by the public and decision makers,” said Anthony Arguez, Physical Scientist with NCEI and lead researcher for the product.
With the graphics available as part of this product, decision makers and the public can see how a single record warm or cold event fits within the bigger climate picture. Without historical context, a record cold spell like the late January 2019 event that impacted the Midwest, for example, can lead some to question the validity of observed climate change. However, a cold event may be just a blip in the long-term trend or cover only a small fraction of the Earth, occurring while other areas experience warmer than normal temperatures.
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Image via NOAA.