Two things can be true at the same time.
It can be difficult to discern that the Earth is warming at all when dangerously cold temperatures are currently threatening our well-being. But a day or two below zero in Iowa or even a week is only a fraction of a year and a tiny dot on the big map. When we talk about Earth or even the United States, the year-over-year analysis shows a rapid warming trend. It is ultimately the difference between weather and climate. weather is Daily atmospheric conditions for a special place, while climate a. Is trend Above for a longer period of time.
The record-high temperature of about 100 years ago may also make this difference difficult to discern. 1934 is the eighth warmest year on record for the United States and the fifth warmest year on record for Iowa. In Des Moines, 1934 still holds 16 high temperature records with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. Why? Exceptionally dry during the summer. It takes more energy to heat water than on land, so when there is no water in the ground, the land heats up faster.
You can see that central Iowa hasn’t had a very high 100° high temperature in recent years. Why? There is now about 4% more water vapor in the atmosphere than in the late 1800s. As mentioned above, if the air has a high humidity, it may not heat up as fast as it can dry. That doesn’t mean we can’t see or see 100 degree days in the future, they’re becoming less common. In 2021, Des Moines set a new record high of 101 degrees on June 16, but central Iowa was in its worst drought phase since 2013. This is the only three 100-degree elevations Des Moines has seen since 2014.
Going back to 1934, while Iowa and the US experienced one of their top 10 warmest years, globally it was nowhere near the top 10 warmest years. It was a colder year than average. Below you’ll see how temperatures fared in 1934 and 2021 compared to global levels. If you move the divider all the way to the right, you’ll see that in 1934, the United States experienced a warmer-than-average year, but much of Earth actually had cooler-than-average temperatures. Now swipe the divider to the left. You will see almost the entire Earth experience above average temperatures in 2021.
What you are seeing is the global temperature of the Earth compared to the average for the whole year. By looking at several years and how they stack up against each other, we can see different trends, but one is quite clear. Climate scientist Dr. Katherine Hayhoe describes this trend in her book, saving us“The truth is that no matter how cold or hot it is today, no matter what the season, each successive decade is breaking new ground as the hottest on record globally.” Below is a video showing the global temperature difference from 1884 to 2021.
Globally, 2021 was the sixth warmest on record, trailing #1 2016, #2 2020, #3 2019, #4 2015, and #5 2017. The top 5 warmest years in the US are (1) 2012, (2) 2016, (3) 2017, (4) 2015, and (5) 2020. Iowa’s top 5 warmest years are (1) 1931, (2) 1921, (3) 1987 and 2012, and (5) 1934.
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