As we suffered through our nasty, cold winter, countless people asked me, "So, what happened to global warming?" The question always came tinged with both a political bent and flat-out exasperation with the persistent chill.
My response was always the same: "The globe is pretty big. It can be both unusually cold here and unusually warm in many other places."
Indeed, we now have the data to show that was the case.
The National Climatic Data Center (a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)) has published a map which shows how much above and below normal the average temperature was across the world during the period of December through February. It clearly shows what we already knew: Much of the U.S., especially the Great Lakes and the Northeast, had a winter in which temperatures averaged well below normal.
At the same time, it also clearly shows that much of the world had a very different experience than us. Europe, parts of Russia, Southeast Asia and Alaska had particularly warm winters. In fact, many countries experienced winters which ranked in their top five warmest on record, including:
- Austria – second warmest
- The Netherlands – tied for second warmest
- Switzerland – third warmest
- Germany – fourth warmest
- Denmark – fifth warmest
Furthermore, when the combined average temperature across the entire globe was calculated, it was determined that it was the eighth highest on record for the December through January time frame. The Northern Hemisphere had its eighth warmest winter and the Southern Hemisphere (where it was summer) tied for its sixth warmest on record.
Meanwhile, the U.S. experienced its 34th coldest winter in its 119 years of record-keeping.
It is important to remember that while the weather we experience in our little corner of the world is most important to us, the world is a big place. What’s going on where we live is often not representative of what’s going on across the rest of the world.
Craig is a meteorologist who was born and raised in Pewaukee. After getting a degree in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he worked over 20 years on TV and radio in Milwaukee, Madison, Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri.
Craig spends most of his time trying to keep up with his bride and their three teenage daughters. Any time left over is spent with his other beloveds, the Packers, Brewers and Badgers.