More to know about the new climate normals

Melting Icebergs
Melting Icebergs

Thirty-year climate normals give us a pretty good idea of just where our averages for highs, lows and precipitation lie for any given day.

The new 30-year compilation from NOAA, just out this week right here, uses data from 1991-2020 and we wrote about this on Click2houston just yesterday here. Southeast Texas is generally WARMER and WETTER than in the past -- warmer because of increasing global temperatures and wetter because that warmth evaporates water which then falls as heavier rain across the area.

All this is just the tip of the melting iceberg, so to speak. Take a look at the 30-year averages for the nation for more than a century and you’ll see pretty easily the red colors indicating the warmer temps not only increase rapidly but even more so the last 40 years:

Courtesy NOAA

In fact, the trend for warmer temperatures is pretty well spelled out in this graph:

While variable, the trend is upward for increasing temps

Because the world is warmer, more evaporation occurs of oceans and land-locked waters. This eventually falls as heavy rain showers, but not evenly -- some areas have seen less precip (especially in the form of snow) over the decades, especially the desert southwest and Rocky Mountains. More extreme flooding and more extreme drought are the results.

Courtesy NOAA

Is global warming the cause?

In a word, yes. Interestingly, if you look at all the variables of the atmosphere that have increased over the century, the primary culprit is carbon dioxide due to human activity. The sun, while cooling and warming in 11-year cycles, has actually remained pretty steady indicating that increased heating from the sun is not the reason for a warmer Earth. It’s our carbon footprint. Below you’ll see carbon dioxide and temperatures go up, while solar energy remains steady.

Carbon Dioxide and temperatures go up while solar energy remains steady!

Global warming by today’s definition is human-caused warming and that is what is causing climate change (higher temperatures, more frequent hurricanes, melting ice caps). An explanation of the difference between the two is right here.

So what to do? It’s pretty simple. If we don’t like the changes we’re seeing in the climate, then we have to make changes. Otherwise, we’ll have to adjust to the new normal.


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.