Record -50°F confirmed for Maine; is this inconsistent with global warming?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:41 PM GMT on February 13, 2009

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The lowest temperature ever recorded in the state of Maine, a -50°F reading taken on January 16, has been confirmed as real, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and National Weather Service this week. The new record occurred at 7:15 a.m. Jan. 16 at a remote river gauge in Big Black River (see USGS image at right), about four miles from the Canadian border. It ties the record set in 1933 for New England's lowest temperature, set at Bloomfield, Vermont. The old Maine record was -48°F, set in 1925 at Van Buren. All-time state records are difficult to break. The last time a state record low was set occurred January 5, 1999, when Congerville, Illinois recorded -36°F. Only one state record high temperature has been set in the past the decade--the 120°F temperature measured in Usta, South Dakota on July 15, 2006.

All-time record lows are inconsistent with global warming, right?
An impressive cold wave hit the northern and eastern portions of the U.S. January 11-18, with 17 states reporting record daily lows. In addition to the coldest temperature ever measured in Maine, one station, Waterloo, Iowa, tied its 1962 record for all-time coldest temperature, when the mercury hit -34°F on January 16. If global warming is occurring, we should not expect to see very many all-time city or state records being set. The nation's January-December average temperature has increased at a rate of 0.12°F per decade since 1895, and at a faster rate of 0.41°F per decade during the last 50 years. This 2°F rise in temperature has undoubtedly allowed more high temperature than low temperature records to be broken. However, this is a low enough amount of warming that there should still be a few cold temperature records being set, since the weather is so highly variable.

The statistics support this position. The Waterloo, Iowa mark was only the second time this decade that an all-time record cold temperature has been set at a major U.S. city. The cities I consider are the 303 cities author Chris Burt tracks in his excellent Extreme Weather book. The cites chosen were selected based primarily on their length of weather records (all the records go back to at least 1948, with most going back to the 1800s), and include all the largest cities in the U.S. The only other all-time coldest temperature record set at these cities this decade was the -44°F recorded in Grand Forks, North Dakota on 1/30/2004. By contrast, 49 all-time high temperature marks have been set this decade (Figure 1).

Perhaps a better judge of the impact of global warming on extreme temperatures, though, is to look at record warmest and coldest months. Month-long records are more reflective of the climate than an extreme event lasting just a few days. No all-time coldest month records were at any U.S. cities during January 2009, and it was not even close. Despite the cold blast of Jan. 11-18, the month of January finished out above average in temperature for the lower 48 states. So far this decade, no U.S. major city has set an all-time coldest month record. The last time a coldest month record was set occurred in January, 1994 when Caribou Maine and Bayfield, Wisconsin recorded their coldest month. By contrast, there have been 61 all-time warmest month records set in those same 303 cities between 2000 and 2008 (Figure 1). The summer of 2007 alone saw 42 all-time high (or warmest month ever) records. Just one record was set in the summer of 2008.


Figure 1. Minimum and maximum temperatures records for the U.S. for 303 major stations. The image has been updated through January 2009 to include the one record low set that month. The original version of this image was for 2007, and I modified it to update it for four changes made in the 2008 data. The numbers for the decade of the 2000s are correct, but there are four (out of 606) records that need to be subtracted off some of the earlier decades. Note the the 1930s were the most extreme decade for total number of records set, but the 1920s were the least extreme. U.S. weather has a high degree of variability from decade to decade. Image credit: Chris Burt, Extreme Weather.

Are the pattern of U.S. temperature records due to the Urban Heat Island effect?
There have been 110 all-time high temperature or all-time warmest month records set at the 303 major U.S. cities this decade, and only two such low temperature records set. Is this disparity due to global warming, or the Urban Heat Island effect? The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect occurs when development of former natural areas into pavement and buildings allows more heat to be trapped in cities, particularly at night. During the day, the UHI effect often leads to a slight cooling, since it can increase the amount of turbulence, allowing cooler air to get mixed down to the surface. For example, Moreno-Garcia (1994) found that Barcelona, Spain was 0.2°C cooler for daily maxima and 2.9°C warmer for minima than a nearby rural station.

However, temperature records are typically taken in parks and airports removed from the main heat-trapping areas of cities, and are not as strongly affected as one might expect. There are several reasons for this. One is that when tall buildings are present, they tend to block the view to the sky, meaning that not as much heat can escape upwards. In addition, the presence of moist vegetation keeps the atmosphere moister in park-like areas (which include the grassy fields near airports where temperature measurements are taken). This extra moisture helps cool the atmosphere on a local scale of tens of meters, due to latent heat effects (the energy required to convert liquid water to water vapor). Peterson (2003) found that "Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures." The study used satellite-based night-light detection to identify urban areas. Recent research by Spronken-Smith and Oke (1998) concluded that there was a marked park cool island effect within the Urban Heat Island. They found that parks in typical cities in the U.S. have temperatures 1 - 2°C cooler than the surrounding city--and sometimes more than 5°C cooler. While the Urban Heat Island effect probably has contributed to some of the reduction in record low temperatures in the U.S. in the past decade, research by Parker (2004, 2006) and Peterson (2003) theorizes that Urban Heat Island effect is a factor ten or more less important than rising temperatures due to global warming.

Is the Urban Heat Island effect partially responsible for global warming?
Global warming is affecting the entire Earth, including rural areas far from cities, and the 70% of the world covered by ocean. Thus, the Urban Heat Island effect--if not corrected for--can cause only a small impact on the global temperature figures. Since the Urban Heat Island is corrected for, the impact on the observed global warming signal should be negligible. For instance, NASA uses satellite-derived night light observations to classify stations as rural and urban and corrects the urban stations so that they match the trends from the rural stations before gridding the data. Other techniques (such as correcting for population growth) have also been used. Despite these corrections, and the fact that the Urban Heat Island effect impacts only a relatively small portion of the globe, global warming skeptics have persistently used the Urban Heat Island effect to attack the validity of global warming. There are no published peer-reviewed scientific studies that support these attacks.

References
Parker, D.E., 2004, "Large-Scale Warming is not Urban", Nature 432, 290, doi:10.1038/432290a, 2004.

Parker, D.E., 2006, "A Demonstration that Large-Scale Warming is not Urban", J. Climate 19, pp2882-2986, 2006.

Peterson, T.C., "Assessment of urban versus rural in situ surface temperatures in the contiguous United States: No difference found", Journal of Climate, 16, 2941-2959, 2003.

Spronken-Smith, R. A., and T. R. Oke, 1998: "The thermal regime of urban parks in two cities with different summer climates. Int. J. Remote Sens., 19, 20852104.

The surface temperature record and the urban heat island, realclimate.org post, 2004.

My next post will be sometime Tue-Thu.

Jeff Masters

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i fixed 431...see i told ya....LOL
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No surf today and knee to possibly thigh N windswell tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully the front/low expected mid-week will be stronger. We should at least see a small S windswell by Wed pm. Looking elsewhere for surf satisfaction- the EC should have some fun surf mid-week and PR gets something it hasn't had in soooo long: S winds and N swell.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
pangean i am now going back and reporting and minusing all your posts

you should be replaced with empty space when they come in at wunder office in the morning
Sad to say, KOTG, we always get one or two who don't understand how 2 agree to disagree without the ad hominem attack. . .

Anyhoo, I'm out. I gotta work in the morning - didn't get called in today as expected, but have an early start [hate Mondays] Ya'll play nice now . . . lol
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Quoting pangean:


I guess you're right. The spinmeister is an obnoxious little punk, but I'm just just gonna let it go. Thanks for the advice. Goodnight all.


Good lord save the insults till when a Recons in a very well organized Tropical wave and cant find a closed circulation.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24246
So you think that front will be strong enough and not fizzle out???
Stalled front passed without any swell attached. (small long board wave tomorrow a.m.) The front arriving mid to later this week looking like our best chance at surf, hopefully it doesn't peter out like the last of these systems! Gulf Temp 62

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pangean i am now going back and reporting and minusing all your posts

you should be replaced with empty space when they come in at wunder office in the morning
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
Quoting pangean:


I guess you're right. The spinmeister is an obnoxious little punk, but I'm just just gonna let it go. Thanks for the advice. Goodnight all.


Nite! Nite! Please don't sucky your thumb when you sleep....ROFLMAO
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Quoting pangean:


I guess you're right. The spinmeister is an obnoxious little punk, but I'm just just gonna let it go. Thanks for the advise. Goodnight all.
Trying to figure out how anything that you said in the above quote actually contradicts "huge contributor" with "significant" "intelligent comment". . .

LOL

I can see I'm heading for a word war or two myself 2nite - better check out. . . :o)

[Sorry, TS, couldn't resist . . .;)]
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I'm the dumbest person here that is why i surround myself with the smartest....thanks everyone.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Gold is sky rocketing......WOW!

Last trade 937.37 Change 106.37 ( 12.80%)

Open 831.00 Previous Close 831
Geeze -- imagine -- with just a highschool education I knew it all along.....either that or my pyrate sensibilities are superior to those banksters, wallstreetwalkers and coporatacy thugs -- It's all air folks and they snookered us good. A wise pirate knows those little gold bars are the real deal LOL
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Quoting surfmom:
Tampa -- I've been preaching GOLD for 3 years now!!!


Surfmom.....done alot of business with that. On my blog at the top where the stock stuff is you will see a Gold Indices Link

i view it everyday....
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pangean pangean pangean what should we do with you ya know its a good place if your not to into yourself
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
Quoting surfmom:


as I sharpen my verbal sword
LOL I have to admit we've had some bloodY word wars on this blog over the years. . .
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Quoting pottery:
I would advise that you not "verbally abuse" anyone at all, around here.


as I sharpen my verbal sword
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Quoting pangean:


So then, high school age? And you say "huge contributor." Does that mean that he just post a lot, or does he have something significant to say? I haven't seen the latter but maybe you could point me to somewhere that he/she has made an intelligent comment. Thanks in advance.
Suggestion, pan; check out his blog. It's the off season, which might give you a false impression. While TS does crack some whack jokes and does not always express opinions with which I agree, I have to give him his due props as a person who spends time and energy analysing and commenting on the weather, especially tropical weather - solid, man. Spend more time in the blog this 2009 ATL season and u will see what I mean.

I agree with pottery, though, that the easiest way to avoid verbally abusing someone who doesn't deserve it is to avoid verbally abusing anyone on the blog.
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Gold is sky rocketing......WOW!

Last trade 937.37 Change +106.37 (+12.80%)

Open 831.00 Previous Close 831
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Tampa -- I've been preaching GOLD for 3 years now!!!
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Pangean,
Here is one intelligent comment:

Ignore he or she....not worth the attention..
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Surfmom get the board ready.....you might be good for Thursday morning....
Tampa fropm your lips to Neptune's ears..... just packed spouse off on a plane --- means unwitnessed PLAYTIME AT THE BEACH -- I want it, I need it -- damn horseworld is burning me out --I need coolent!!
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be safe pottery talk later
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
Quoting bystander:


He's definately not a "pre-teen" . Huge contributer to this blog!! Watch what you say!


So then, high school age? And you say "huge contributor." Does that mean that he just post a lot, or does he have something significant to say? I haven't seen the latter but maybe you could point me to somewhere that he/she has made an intelligent comment. Thanks in advance.
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Thanks Keeper.
I am out. Gone to the airport. Why do flights have to arrive at this un-Godly hour.
Still coming down heavy.........
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Anyone every figure out why Tequilla floats to the top of a Margeritta mix.......LOL
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Ignor he or she....not worth the attention..


sorry
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Ignor he or she....not worth the attention..
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latest image pottery
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
your just a nasty troll pangean be gone with you
may you be replaced with empty space


sorry for quoting him!
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Surfmom get the board ready.....you might be good for Thursday morning....
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I would advise that you not "verbally abuse" anyone at all, around here.
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Here is what to watch.....if you see Gold blast off.....watch out..

SPOT MARKET IS OPEN
closes in 19 hrs. 23 mins.
Feb 15, 2009 21:50 NY Time
Bid/Ask 937.10 - 938.70
Low/High 935.50 - 943.60
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Quoting pangean:
Anybody know how old TampaSpin is? Doesn't matter so much but I don't really want to be verbally abusing a pre-teen. Believe it, or not, I have my standards. Thanks.


He's definately not a "pre-teen" . Huge contributer to this blog!! Watch what you say!
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your just a nasty troll pangean be gone with you
may you be replaced with empty space
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
Surfmom, 403.
I know. Its a shame that this wedding was this weekend. I feel bad not being there, but I HAD to close off the Exhibition this w/e.
I was going to Formally Announce my Presence in the fair State of Fla., and expected Great Celebrations there, with Music, Pyrates and Grog.
Alas, another time....
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Quoting pottery:
Tampa, it seems to me, that the stock market will not go up.
The problem, as I see it, is a Total loss of Trust in the Financial system by everyone.
I cannot see how we will return to what was, until the systems are purged of the distrust.
And how to do that, is the problem.


BINGO
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Quoting pottery:
An area of heavy rain to the east of me, looks to be moving north before it gets here. The one building to the south looks to be coming this way by midnight. This from the sat. loops.
That's when I have to drive to the airport to meet my daughter, who is returning from Fla., Attended a wedding, of my God Daughter, that I was not able to attend. Anyone know Lighthouse Point ?


No...but you're suppose to come to Sarasota and meet Orca and the other dude North of me....(Rob)Few pirate chicks around as well
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Looking at the water vapour images. This looks like it could last for a week again !
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Rain is very heavy now..........
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Tampa. It is indeed global.
The largest conglomerate here, is now in Gov. hands as of last week.
10 Billion dollars !!! (about 1.6 Billion US $) This co. is in --Insurance/Pensions/Banking/Methanol and other things. With Interests all over the Islands.
Methanol prices are down too......
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Wow is California in trouble.......


The budget crisis is dire: tax refund checks and payments to state vendors have been delayed; some 2,000 public works projects have been stopped because the state has no money to pay for them; and California's credit rating is so bad the state can't get loans.

Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, has ordered furloughs for state government workers and has threatened layoffs for as many as 10,000.

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I see that Keeper.
Still going to be a real wet night, and tomorrow too.
Ground is completely saturated, and rivers are all full already all over the island.
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Quoting pottery:
Tampa, it seems to me, that the stock market will not go up.
The problem, as I see it, is a Total loss of Trust in the Financial system by everyone.
I cannot see how we will return to what was, until the systems are purged of the distrust.
And how to do that, is the problem.


Its not just a US problem it is a Global problem.....Heck someone told me today that Germany has an 18% unemployment rate....wow!
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Tampa, it seems to me, that the stock market will not go up.
The problem, as I see it, is a Total loss of Trust in the Financial system by everyone.
I cannot see how we will return to what was, until the systems are purged of the distrust.
And how to do that, is the problem.
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one to your south is fading fast
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
ya i know pottery

what they say and what it is

is two different things
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
That looks like it will clip the northeast Keeper.
But will certainly bring heavy rain in a couple hours.
Very peculiar weather indeed......
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Always tough seeing loss of Life,we all feel for the lost.
It's natural and Human.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128865
latest image pottery
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54616
Off the weather some but, since the House and Senate passed the stimulus Bill....who thinks the Stock Market tomorrow will go up or down....
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Quoting Patrap:
In 6-10 months you'll have a Final report to read about what occurred to the Tragic Flight of that DASH-8.

All else is speculation as to the cause.

The NTSB page Link


Pat you are correct. Maybe i am in error of jumping the gun and apologize to those that can't speak out and too their families.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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