Category Archives: Climate

How will a warmer planet affect the severity of mid-latitude storms?

In previous columns we have discussed how the phase change of the water substance from invisible, gaseous water vapor into liquid water (through condensation) or into solid ice (through freezing) releases latent heat into the surrounding environment.

This heat can change many aspects of the nature of the mid-latitude storms in which the phase change is occurring. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Severe Weather

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What is the hydrologic cycle?

The hydrologic cycle describes the circulation of water from the ocean and other watery surfaces to the atmosphere and to the land.

A major source of atmospheric water vapor is evaporation from the oceans. Precipitation — rain, snow, sleet or freezing rain — falls from clouds and is a loss of atmospheric water as it removes water from the atmosphere. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology

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Is our growing season getting longer?

Yes. There are several studies that demonstrate shifts in the timing and length of the growing season.

One way to measure the length of the growing season is to count the number of days between the last frost in spring and the first frost in fall. By this measure, Wisconsin’s growing season lengthened by about 12 days between 1950 and 2006. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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When can it get really hot in southern Wisconsin?

Our cold early April seems to have finally given way to a surging spring. Now that we have seemingly emerged from winter, with reasonable confidence that we will not go back, it is interesting to consider when truly summerlike weather might first appear in southern Wisconsin.

One measure of summer here is a daytime high temperature at or above 90 degrees. In Madison, there have been only three April days when the high temperature was that warm. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Did we have a normal winter this year?

As far as our winter time mean temperature, southern Wisconsin was above normal by about 5 degrees.

Being warmer than normal is typical during an El Nino year, and that is what we experienced this winter. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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