The Southwest and Northeast have warmed the most. California is, well, average
They call it “global warming” but where you fall on the warming scale depends a lot on where you live. Not everywhere has warmed the same amount (or at all), and it certainly hasn’t happened at the same rate.
Some states show an increase in average temperatures (Minnesota, Maine, Arizona and New Mexico, for instance), and some show nearly none (Florida, Alabama, Georgia). California ends up pretty much in the middle of the pack. One reason is its size: California is big and geographically diverse.
[module align=”left” width=”half” type=”pull-quote”]“We are pushing the system more and more, so what has happened in the past is not a very good sign of what is going to happen in the future.”[/module]”It may well be there are areas warming more or less within California,” Claudia Tebaldi, a research scientist at Climate Central, a visiting scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and one of the report’s authors told me. “And I’m sure the very coastal areas are going to have much less warming than the interior” (a trend we first wrote about back in 2008). Tebaldi said the influence of the ocean and natural patterns and variations — for instance, El Niño — may have an effect, too.
Though states have experienced different amounts of warming, the report finds that beginning in the 1970s, the pace of warming has accelerated across the country.
Tebaldi stressed that while the overall warming trend is consistent with what scientists expect the effects of greenhouse gas emissions to be, this study isn’t about causation. “It’s really not possible to [determine that] at this geographic scale of states,” she explained. This study also doesn’t project what’s to come. “The problem with future projections is we are pushing the system more and more, so what has happened in the past is not a very good sign of what is going to happen in the future,” she said.
Tebaldi and her co-authors used temperature data from the United States Historical Climatology Network, which has temperature records from more than 1,200 weather stations around the continental U.S. That allowed them to get more specific, and to go beyond national or regional trends.
“My interest in doing this as a scientist is to communicate the diversity in the behavior of climate at the local level,” she said. “But also to invite people to have a larger view of what’s going on, and not be bogged down by the fact that the Southeast is not warming. Because the bigger picture is one of warming, especially when you look at the most recent acceleration of the trends.”