Category Archives: Climate

Is human activity impacting global climate?

The observational evidence that our Earth is warming is overwhelming and unmistakable. Earth scientists agree that in the past 200-plus years, human activity has been a significant contributing factor to the observed increase in mean global temperatures. Scientists cannot explain this increasing temperature trend without incorporating human impacts, primarily the burning fossil fuels.

Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, was probably the first scientist to propose that burning fossil fuels could modify our global temperatures. He recognized that carbon dioxide (CO2), a byproduct of burning carbon-based substances such as natural gas, gasoline and oil, is like a greenhouse gas and that increasing the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere through human activities could lead to a warmer Earth. He made this estimate in 1896. So, we have been aware of the fundamental physics of global warming for over 100 years. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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Was the whole autumn unusually warm, or just November?

If you thought November was warmer than usual around southern Wisconsin, you were exactly right.

Madison averaged 7.6 degrees above normal for the month, which ranked as the third warmest November on record (since 1870). Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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What is the status of the Arctic sea ice?

The year 2016 will go down as one with below-normal Arctic sea ice coverage.

While not quite a record-setting year like 2012, throughout much of 2016 the extent of sea ice was more than two standard deviations below the average. At the end of October the Arctic sea ice was at its lowest coverage for the month since satellite-based data records started in 1978. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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When will the first snow arrive?

The first cold mornings of the season visited southern Wisconsin last week with the morning low temperatures dipping to 34 and 33 degrees on Thursday and Friday mornings, respectively.

The first chill of the year has the tendency to turn our attention to the prospects of snow and when it might first arrive in Madison. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Is Madison breaking any records during the warmest year ever across the globe?

Sunday was the 110th consecutive day in Madison with a daily high temperature at or above 70 degrees, shattering the previous longest such streak of 103 days, set in 1998, by seven days.

We are also approaching the record for the number of consecutive days with a daily minimum temperature at or above 45 degrees, set in 2010 when a streak of 128 such days occurred. As of Sunday, this year’s string was at 127. Low temperatures forecast around 45 degrees for Monday through Wednesday could maintain or break that streak. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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