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 love this cool weather...makes up for the miserable summers and high a.c. bills...
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Quoting futuremet:
sorry surfmon...
*giggle* : )
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Something might be happening on Redoubt...it could be coming....


you told me waves were coming...but you forgot to mention how cold it is!!!! Like someone opened a freezer door today -- yuk

Post 631 -- good to see those ocean temp maps... Trinidad has some nice temps...especially compared to me
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sorry surfmon...
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
Quoting futuremet:
Geoffrey

What happened to JFV?

Why does he not post here anymore?....I know he is no longer banned
Shhhhhh!
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Quoting Skyepony:


Not at all.. the ENSO model have been screamin it but the Pacific hasn't been bringing it. ENSO is lagging the models predictions & has been a few months now. I haven't bought the raging El Nino as true~ not watching the ESPI. Just pointing out those ENSO models are most likely feeding the long models. Stronger the EL NIno more chance of fish. You are what you eat..


I was not talking about you skye =]

I was talking about those who often go overboard here
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
633. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting futuremet:
624

Trough vs ridges....downcasters vs wishcasters...how classic


Not at all.. the ENSO model have been screamin it but the Pacific hasn't been bringing it. ENSO is lagging the models predictions & has been a few months now. I haven't bought the raging El Nino as true~ not watching the ESPI. Just pointing out those ENSO models are most likely feeding the long models. Stronger the EL NIno more chance of fish. You are what you eat..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37159
629. futuremet
How cool! It's pretty neat hearing myself being mentioned. Thank futuremet!
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Cooler SSTs...



Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
I just looked at the EUROSIP multi-model forecast and it seems to show strongly above-average pressure across the MDR region coupled with more widespread subsident conditions through the May, June,and July time frame. Still, obviously, a lot of time for change; but, nevertheless, interesting to note.
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Quoting KEHCharleston:
623. futuremet
Wow - great visuals! Well done.


Thanks KEH

you were mentioned in one of my videos..and you too drak
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
628. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
SEVERE WEATHER WARNING
for Flash Flooding and Locally Damaging Winds
For people in the western half of the Pilbara and the far northern Gascoyne

A low near the west Pilbara coast is expected to cause heavy rain over that
could result in flash flooding. The FESA - State Emergency Service advises that
driving conditions may be hazardous. Should flash flooding occur, avoid affected
roads, watercourses and floodways in the vicinity until safe to proceed. Flood
Warnings are current for the Lyndon-Minilya Rivers and Gascoyne River Catchment,
Onslow Coastal Streams, Ashburton River and Pilbara coastal streams, please
refer to the latest warnings for further details.

There is also the risk of thunderstorms that may result in locally damaging
winds to 100 kilometres per hour that could result in damage to property.

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624

Trough vs ridges....downcasters vs wishcasters...how classic
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
623. futuremet
Wow - great visuals! Well done.
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Quoting Drakoen:


I'm looking forward to posting this season.


Yes me too.

I will try to augment my knowledge about meteorology daily.

Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
624. Skyepony (Mod)
My guess on the fish storms would be the models insistance on a extreme el nino for summer which would tend to cause fish storms.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37159
I am still developing a couple of projects.

My next video will probably be about "The formation of Supercellular storms" I will go in depth on how these mesoscale events occur.

This is my commercial for my channel..hope you like

Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Looking forward to your posts this season Drak


I'm looking forward to posting this season.
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621. Skyepony (Mod)
here's the advisories. Turns out that is ash coming out of the one in Ecuator. The columian one is spewing too just can't see it by satellite. The long animation was neat. Looking through advisories the whole area looks somewhat unseddled.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37159
Don't know why he has not recently posted..His ban must be off by now...Probally just a seasonal poster..Surprised not to see Extreme posting..always liked reading his thoughts...
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Geoffrey

What happened to JFV?

Why does he not post here anymore?....I know he is no longer banned
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
Going to be really interesting to compare posts between Drak, Future, and the other smart bloggers on systems this upcoming season...and of course JFV
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Quoting Drakoen:


lol. I'm pretty much on here everyday, just don't really feel the need to post. 90% of the time you guys are arguing and its more or less the same people.


Yes...too much AGW and GW altercations here
Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
616. Skyepony (Mod)
I don't see anything spewing out of Galeras today..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37159
Looking forward to your posts this season Drak
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I'm sure you don't mean arguing about GW ..we all pretty much agree on that...:)


That's just barely scraping the surface.
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I'm sure you don't mean arguing about GW ..we all pretty much agree on that...:)
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
For some reason I thought that post might draw a response from Drak..although I do agree it is silly to think any model or whatever can predict a precise storm at a precise time seven months in advance...my local 10-day forecast has changed 10 times in the last 10 days..


lol. I'm pretty much on here everyday, just don't really feel the need to post. 90% of the time you guys are arguing and its more or less the same people.
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Even if it isn't that accurate it is still fun to look 9 months in advance.
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Do you have a link to the Glosea?
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For some reason I thought that post might draw a response from Drak..although I do agree it is silly to think any model or whatever can predict a precise storm at a precise time seven months in advance...my local 10-day forecast has changed 10 times in the last 10 days..
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It was actualy creepy when Ike Hit Texas because it was forcasted many months in advance.
When it happened, I was like no freakin way!
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Did You know it predicted Hurricane Ike 3636 hours out?


Did it do that run to run day to day? Within the exact period of time?


Quoting atmoaggie:


Blind squirrel found a nut?!? Cool.


Exactly my thoughts.
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Quoting SevereHurricane:


Did You know it predicted Hurricane Ike 3636 hours out?


Blind squirrel found a nut?!? Cool.
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Quoting Drakoen:
It's not wise to use a model such as the CFS to looks 4-7 months into the future. It's just used as guidance and generally flip-flops. It doesn't have the resolution to be very accurate. The Glosea, ECMWF, or NICAM would probably have better guidance; but, even so, its still the long range.


Did You know it predicted Hurricane Ike 3636 hours out?
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It's not wise to use a model such as the CFS to looks 4-7 months into the future. It's just used as guidance and generally flip-flops. It doesn't have the resolution to be very accurate. The Glosea, ECMWF, or NICAM would probably have better guidance; but, even so, its still the long range.
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So these little USHCN beauties are not impacted by the "urban heat island effect"? Maybe it should be called the "lennox/carrier/asphalt/concrete effect"?

http://www.surfacestations.org/odd_sites.htm

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Quoting taistelutipu:
thanks. I forgot it's in Alaska. *lol*

Btw, about the recent tremors shown on the helicorder, there could be other reasons for it:

I see lots of activity on the helicorder for volcano _______. Why don't I see any earthquakes?

* There are several possibilities: (1) the helicorder is showing wind or electronic noise and not earthquakes; (2) the review of these earthquakes has not yet been completed by an AVO seismologist so they are not yet in the catalog; (3) There are many types of seismic activity at volcanoes other than earthquakes. It is possible that the seismic activity consists of volcanic tremor, explosions or rock falls; or (4) the earthquakes are large enough to be detected, but too small to be located.


(from the FAQ section on Earthquakes on the AVO site - scroll down for FAQ)

Go to aksnow's blog. Check out the seismogram signatures I posted. See "Tectonic". Compare.
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10077
hmmmm.......

Its intresting to note that the long-range CFS does not develop much in the GOM or CAR this hurricane season.
But has 2 Nasty Fish/Cape Verde Hurricanes in September.
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Quoting Skyepony:
How about the volcano in Columbia? That one being so close to the equator~ if it blows big enough, could effect the world's weather for a few years..


true
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Quoting Skyepony:
How about the volcano in Columbia? That one being so close to the equator~ if it blows big enough, could effect the world's weather for a few years..


Sky you are so correct.....it could really screw up weather big time......
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
thanks. I forgot it's in Alaska. *lol*

Btw, about the recent tremors shown on the helicorder, there could be other reasons for it:

I see lots of activity on the helicorder for volcano _______. Why don't I see any earthquakes?

* There are several possibilities: (1) the helicorder is showing wind or electronic noise and not earthquakes; (2) the review of these earthquakes has not yet been completed by an AVO seismologist so they are not yet in the catalog; (3) There are many types of seismic activity at volcanoes other than earthquakes. It is possible that the seismic activity consists of volcanic tremor, explosions or rock falls; or (4) the earthquakes are large enough to be detected, but too small to be located.


(from the FAQ section on Earthquakes on the AVO site - scroll down for FAQ)
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Quoting taistelutipu:
Hi everyone!
Thanks for posting Aksnowlvr's blog, very interesting to see the increase in seismic activity there.
The webcam picture from the Redoubt hut is quite obscure. Anyone knows what's going on there? Just bad weather and minimal visibility?
I think the webcam has snow on it. I am sure someone will correct this if I am wrong. ;)
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596. Skyepony (Mod)
How about the volcano in Columbia? That one being so close to the equator~ if it blows big enough, could effect the world's weather for a few years..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37159
Hi everyone!
Thanks for posting Aksnowlvr's blog, very interesting to see the increase in seismic activity there.
The webcam picture from the Redoubt hut is quite obscure. Anyone knows what's going on there? Just bad weather and minimal visibility?
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64 and breezy here in West Palm. Great weather!!!
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577. MisterPerfect 8:23 PM GMT on February 16, 2009
"Ex-Astronaut: Global Warming Is Bunk"?????

Monday, February 16, 2009
Associated Press

...............................................

That was my point MisterPerfect.
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10077
Something might be happening on Redoubt...it could be coming....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Tampa - Great minds think alike.
And sometimes ours do too!
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Quoting KEHCharleston:
Check Redoubt seismic graphs - AkSnowLvr Blog


KEH sorry didn't mean to double post as i was just looking at it...wow is it active.....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Redoubt Volcano Latest Observations
2009-02-16 13:25:29

Unrest at Redoubt Volcano continues. No eruption has occurred. Volcanic tremor with variable amplitudes is ongoing. Beginning at about 9:00 AM AKST today, the tremor amplitude increased and remains elevated, though still below the highest levels seen during the current period of unrest.

Web camera images are obscured by snowy conditions.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439

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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.