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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Absolutely Nadia!!!!!!!!!!! Misery loves company!!!!!!
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737
Press is your window wide enough for two to go together?
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12:23 P EST .DJIA7567.58-282.83-3.6%679,409,000
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Quoting stillwaiting:


Amen,brother....Amen,greed is why most lost there money anyways!!!

I'm trying to hear ya, but the sound of golden parachutes hitting the ground over the last two years and in Colorado this morning is deafening.
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10147
Lord knows I hate to admit this in public ;)...

but....I agree with Vort...
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All of you sound like you keep up with current weather and are a cut above the whiney hineys!

I have seen times in the Early 50's the weather was so cold here in MS you would have thought it was Alaska! We would have snow and it wouldn't melt in a week or 10 days! 5-6 years later (and before) we would go barefooted and shirtless during Christmas. We have the SAME type weather NOW!!
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730
Pottery, click "settings" next to your handle at the top of the page... click "page preferences" and it will be there!


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The season can pump $1 billion into the city’s economy from hotels, retail sales of beads and costumes and school bands getting paid to march, Romig said.

I heard the occupancy rate in the hotels over the weekend was in the high %90s. And this is in a town that regularly hosts college championship sports events and superbowls.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Where did the " set timezone" button go to. I have been stuck on "GMT" and want to change it,.....
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C'mon in, Surfmom, The water's fine.......
heheheheh
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BTW
Re Facebook rules:
It was announced this AM that Facebook has changed your right to privacy "in their best interests" and will retain your data in their records for as long as they feel a need and for whatever purpose they desire.
Name, address, DOB, employement, education, family, associates, vacation locations, pets, the works.
The change has been quitely taking place over the last two weeks. Too late to edit your profile or delete your page to protect your privacy.
Same ol' adage, "be careful what you throw out there"...
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10147
Pottery -- the ocean temp maps & your post make it quite clear to me -- I need a better location...I'm staring at my outfit for this Thursday cold front waves --NEOPRENE--

I spend a fortune on a B-suit & I cover it up with black neoprene...... not right!

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Economy not slowing Mardi Gras preparations. Link

The season can pump $1 billion into the city’s economy from hotels, retail sales of beads and costumes and school bands getting paid to march, Romig said.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129408
725. HTV
Quoting presslord:
...only problem is....my office is on the first floor....

Appears Wall Street's and my opinion on the "Stimulus Package" concur.
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Hello all.
Weather here, still getting showers, but it looks like it will improve this week.
Temp 86F
humidity 66 %
Wind 20 mph ene
Very Nice......
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Hi everyone - I'm working in Missouri after ice storms and I can tell you it isn't warming here quite yet. Been away for a while - first on fabulous fifty anniversary trip and then on some medical stuff. Hope this year is a mild one as some of you are forecasting for the tropics! Good to log back on and see the same gang is here.
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Quoting presslord:
...at the end of the day...it's not what you make...it's what you spend....


Well said... and as long as the spend is smaller then the make... you win :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
...at the end of the day...it's not what you make...it's what you spend....
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Quoting stillwaiting:


Amen,brother....Amen,greed is why most lost there money anyways!!!


Yup, if you went sub prime.. and maxed out.. then the old expression prevails...

If it sounds to good to be true.. then it probably isn't.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
One can party here,till ya drop..or get arrested.Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129408
Quoting Orcasystems:


This may sound to simplistic Tim, but here it goes anyway.

Money in Stocks = Zero
Money in Wallstreet Stuff = Zero
Money in Money Market = Zero
My money in other peoples control (not counting SWMBO) = Zero
GAFF about people money who invested to get rich or make a quick buck = Zero

The only person I have to blame when it comes to how much I earn or save... Me (and SWMBO shopping)

I don't follow the trading, or money markets or mortgage crisis. I make my money the old fashioned way.. I earn it.



Amen,brother....Amen,greed is why most lost there money anyways!!!
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There is an extratropical storm dominating most of the eastern Atlantic. Winds and waves are up...
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Quoting presslord:
re: post # 710....

I'm seriously thinking about jumping out of the window.....


To messy.... I have some other suggestions
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...only problem is....my office is on the first floor....
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Some people will go to any extreme to show there is global warming WHICH IS CAUSED BY HUMANS. They will use any means possible to take any statistics out of context to prove that point. They never take any statistical part of a graph to prove otherwise. There is absolutely no evidence to PROVE that humans or carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is the cause of any global warming if it indeed exists outside of natural sequences. I'm sure if you had records going back 10,000 years you might see the same patterns repeated again and again before fossil fuels. You can always take part of a relatively short period graph to prove anything you like while ignoring the parts you don't like. Me thinks some people have a political goal in mind pursuing global warming for a sinister (to my mind) purpose.
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re: post # 710....

I'm seriously thinking about jumping out of the window.....
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Well looky what the cat dragged in.....#710
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Quoting Skyepony:
There was a huge photoplanktin bloom in the gulf last week..
I saw those Sat. Photos on your blog, -- really fascinating..... Was it the good stuff that bloomed? Do not believe I have received any Red Tide Reports......
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Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJI: ^DJI)
Index Value: 7,607.64
Trade Time: 11:03AM ET
Change: 242.77 (3.09%)
Prev Close: 7,850.41
Open: 7,845.63
Day's Range: 7,560.33 - 7,970.84
52wk Range: 7,392.27 - 13,191.50
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


104 Days less or more a few hours my friend.


now that feels like pending doom --- ahhh we woman -- never can make us happy
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Well, New York is awaiting a minor winter storm system for the next two days. I'm bracing for a drop in temperature and a cold rain (or snow.)
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707. JRRP
702
impressive system
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Quoting surfmom:


Dude.... I thought you were my neighbor!!!! perhaps I need to sharpen my verbal sword!!,,,,,,,,,nahhhh -- I know I'll be needing you in ...How many Days CyberTed???? You get a free pass on the tease..... there's no Cheese for my Whine.... and that's why they invented Neoprene


104 Days less or more a few hours my friend.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24548
But NOW that you referred to me as a wimp -- the burner is ignited.... the neoprene will be applied...... and under my breath I'm hissing........"I'll show him whose a wimp."

Got my motivation -- question is -- you gonna come down and paddle out with me????

Cold Front waves are delightful.... just like surfing a 7:11 Slurpee.

I have no work today -- hallelujah -- I have no boss spouse looking over my shoulder.......what does this mean -----NO RULES and a very long, run -- hour out and an hour back should delight. Cold weather made me hungry last night -- confessing to eating 4 donuts -- now I must pay penance (as soon as it warms up)
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Quoting theshepherd:
Hmmmm?
In a train/cow collision, they report "Train runs over cow"

When an airplane flys into a bird they report "Bird flys into airplane" or "Airplane hit by flock of birds".

Is it just me ?
your too quick this morning--- I'm rolling off my chair!

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Quoting TampaSpin:


wimp......LOL


Dude.... I thought you were my neighbor!!!! perhaps I need to sharpen my verbal sword!!,,,,,,,,,nahhhh -- I know I'll be needing you in ...How many Days CyberTed???? You get a free pass on the tease..... there's no Cheese for my Whine.... and that's why they invented Neoprene
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Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24548
It iz still winter..


Mid May is the threshold ..usually,lately..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129408
Quoting Patrap:
Gulf of Mexico 60 Hour Water Surface Temperature Forecast Link

GOM 60 Hour Wave Forecast (using WW3) Link

ESL WAVCIS page Link

The TROPICAL WEATHER on that page is the wunderground's


Pat those Water Temps seem much more realistic.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Gulf of Mexico 60 Hour Water Surface Temperature Forecast Link

GOM 60 Hour Wave Forecast (using WW3) Link

ESL WAVCIS page Link

The TROPICAL WEATHER on that page is the wunderground's
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129408
Quoting Skyepony:
Looks like the heat is coming from the caribbean though..


Sky the Graphics from this site can be deceiving also. I did not realize that when you change depths that the color scale changes also. Don't know why they did that. Made no sense.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
It's actually warm(ish) today. Spring is on her way...
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I just updated my Weather Blog if anyone would like to view.....


SEVERE WEATHER COMING TO THE SOUTHERN PLAINS AND INTO THE TENNESSEE VALLEY!

TampaSpins Weather Blog Link
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
695. HTV
Quoting Skyepony:
Looks like the heat is coming from the caribbean though..

Yeah, it does look like a warm-pool eddy breaking off.
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694. Skyepony (Mod)
Looks like the heat is coming from the caribbean though..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39042
693. Skyepony (Mod)
There was a huge photoplanktin bloom in the gulf last week..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 208 Comments: 39042
692. HTV
Quoting RitaEvac:
Ominus tongue of near 80 degree water SE of NOLA in the Central Gulf. Little early to be seeing that isnt it?

Joe B. brought that up last week. It may be instrumentation glitch or... Phosphates and such washed down the Miss. River creating some sort of bloom allowing for more solar absorption. I'm guessing instruments.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Orca did you see the overseas markets last nite.....wow....not good! Gonna be a rough day today on WallStreet. Hopefully at the end of the day its even but, it will open way down real quick.


This may sound to simplistic Tim, but here it goes anyway.

Money in Stocks = Zero
Money in Wallstreet Stuff = Zero
Money in Money Market = Zero
My money in other peoples control (not counting SWMBO) = Zero
GAFF about people money who invested to get rich or make a quick buck = Zero

The only person I have to blame when it comes to how much I earn or save... Me (and SWMBO shopping)

I don't follow the trading, or money markets or mortgage crisis. I make my money the old fashioned way.. I earn it.

Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting theshepherd:
Hmmmm?
In a train/cow collision, they report "Train runs over cow"

When an airplane flys into a bird they report "Bird flys into airplane" or "Airplane hit by flock of birds".

Is it just me ?


No your right.....i think the birds had airspace rights before we did.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Hmmmm?
In a train/cow collision, they report "Train runs over cow"

When an airplane flys into a bird they report "Bird flys into airplane" or "Airplane hit by flock of birds".

Is it just me ?
Member Since: September 11, 2008 Posts: 9 Comments: 10147

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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.

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