Washington Warmed Slowest of all States Over Past 30 Years – But What Does It Mean for Climate Change?

From the Seattle Times by Gene Balk:

According to a new analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data by The Associated Press (AP) the average yearly temperature in the continental U.S. is nearly 1.6 degrees warmer today than it was 30 years ago. And in that period, the average yearly temperature has increased by more than one degree in all but one state.

The lone exception? Washington. Temperatures have gone up here, too, in the past 30 years, but by only a little more than half a degree. Oregon had the second smallest increase, at just over one degree, and North Dakota’s was third.

JISAO’s Nick Bond, also an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington says, “I wouldn’t put too much significance to it From a climate perspective, 30 years is a short time for a trend.”

He said that if you looked at the temperature over a longer period, Washington probably wouldn’t look like such an outlier. The 30-year period starts in the 1980s, which was a warmer than average cycle for Washington.

“You’re starting at a relatively warm time, so you’re not going to get as big of a change as if you started at a relatively cold time,” he said.

Even so, Bond said he’s not surprised that hear that Washington’s climate hasn’t warmed quite as much as other states in the past 3o years.

Climate models show that along the Pacific Coast, there’s a somewhat slower warming trend, he said. That’s because of the moderating influence of the ocean — and the prevailing winds here come from the west, off the ocean.

“The oceans are absorbing most of the heat from the higher concentration of greenhouse gases,” Bond said. “But the heat capacity of the ocean is so large, it still hasn’t warmed up as much as land areas.”

Bond says the trend is probably going to continue, with a more muted warming along the West Coast compared with the inland areas of the country.

“Those trends are inexorable, the climate is changing,” Bond said.

Read more at the Seattle Times