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On Earth Day: New 30-year climate 'normals' show dramatic warming in Minnesota

Apr 22, 2021 06:04AM ● By Editor
By Paul Huttner of Minnesota Public Radio News - April 21, 2021



30-year US temperature normals since 1960
30-year U.S. temperature normals since 1960  Graphic: NOAA


NOAA will release updated 30-year climate normals on May 4. The latest update shows Minnesota is rapidly trending warmer and wetter. In fact, the pace of climate change in Minnesota is accelerating.

The new update includes weather data from the decade of the 2010s. The past decade is the warmest in the global surface temperature dating back to 1880. 

Average global surface temperatures since 1880
Average global surface temperatures since 1880
NOAA 

Ice cores and other reliable paleoclimate records show earth’s current climate is the warmest in thousands of years


Minnesota among the fastest-warming places in the U.S. 

Take a look at the updated temperature data that includes the latest decade. You can see how Minnesota is among the fastest-warming locations in the U.S. 

30-year US temperature normals since 1900
Annual U.S. temperature compared to the 20th-century average for each U.S. Climate Normals period from 1901-1930 (upper left) to 1991-2020 (lower right). Places where the normal annual temperature was 1.25 degrees or more colder than the 20th-century average are darkest blue; places where normal annual temperature was 1.25 degrees or more warmer than the 20th-century average are darkest red. 
Maps by NOAA Climate.gov, based on analysis by Jared Rennie, North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies/NCEI.

Here’s a closer look at the years since 1960. You can see how the warming has been consistent across the Upper Midwest since 1960. And the trend is accelerating in the past 40 years.

30-year US temperature normals since 1960
30-year U.S. temperature normals since 1960  Graphic: NOAA


Biggest warming in winter

Temperature change in Minnesota is not equal in all seasons. The extra greenhouse gasses we are putting into the atmosphere are more effective at keeping temperatures higher in winter. This is especially true on winter nights. 

Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are the fastest warming locations in the lower 48 U.S. states.

CC-CC-warmer-winters-US-map1jpg
Winter warming in the U.S. NOAA data/Climate Central graphic

Overall winters have warmed by about 5 degrees in the Twin Cities since 1970. 

Winter warming trend in the Twin Cities since 1970
Winter warming trend in the Twin Cities since 1970  Graphic: NOAA data via Climate Central

That’s a dramatic change in many of our lifetimes. 


Wetter, too

The new updated 30-year averages show Minnesota is also trending strongly wetter. 

30-year US precipitation normals since 1900
Normal annual U.S. precipitation as a percent of the 20th-century average for each U.S. Climate Normals period from 1901-1930 (upper left) to 1991-2020 (lower right). Places where the normal annual precipitation was 12.5 percent or more below the 20th-century average are darkest brown; places where normal annual precipitation was 12.5 percent or more wetter than the 20th-century average are darkest green.  Maps by NOAA Climate.gov, based on analysis by Jared Rennie, North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies/NCEI.

Overall Minnesota is about 3 degrees warmer and 3 inches wetter than 1900. 

CC precipitation change in MN
Minnesota DNR. Huttner, Paul


New normals masking climate change?

There’s one element of updating our weather average every 10 years that has a masking effect on climate change. When our daily and monthly averages go up every 10 years as our climate warms, it tends to mask the overall rise in temperature compared to the 20th-century temperature averages. 

You can see how temperatures in Minnesota are trending higher since 1895. The past 30 years average is higher than the 20th-century average overall. 

Minnesota temperature trend since 1895
Minnesota temperature trend since 1895  Graphic: NOAA


So on a day when your local meteorologist tells you the temperature was 3 degrees above average based on the latest 30-year averages, it was really more like 5 to 6 degrees above the 20th-century average. 

You can be assured I will be pointing that context out in my weathercasts as the new 30-year normals take effect in May.


To see the original story and read related stories, follow this link to the MPR News website.  https://www.mprnews.org/story/2021/04/21/new-30year-climate-normals-show-dramatic-warming-in-minneso...

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