Global Warming

This winter was cold for some, not for all

A lot of folks in the eastern half of the United States are breathing a sigh of relief that spring is just around the corner. Average temperatures this winter were among the Top 10 coldest in some parts of the Upper Midwest and South. More than 90 percent of the surface of the Great Lakes is frozen, the highest in 35 years.

But while East Coast and Midwest kids have been sledding and their parents have been shoveling, it has not been cold everywhere. In fact, many areas are unusually warm.

In Alaska, January temperatures were as high as they have been in 30 years. The Iditarod dogsled race was especially treacherous this month because of a lack of snow. Crews had to stockpile and dump snow on the ground at the finish line in Nome, where temperatures earlier this winter broke a record.

Globally, January was the fourth warmest on record – really – despite pockets of well-below-normal temperatures in parts of the United States. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures. For example:

  • China experienced its second warmest January on record.
  • France tied its warmest January.
  • Parts of Brazil and Australia saw record heat.
January temperatures were above normal for much of the globe.
January temperatures were above normal for much of the globe.

About U.S. Federal

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) seeks to inform the design and implementation of federal policies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and promote clean energy. Drawing from its extensive peer-reviewed published works, in-house analyses on the design of climate change policies and clean energy policies, and tracking of current legislative proposals, the Center provides research, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers in both Congress and the Executive Branch.

The Center regularly meets with members of the federal Administration, U.S. Senate, and House of Representatives and their staff to discuss climate science, impacts, economics, policy, regulation, and legislation. C2ES also holds widely-attended Capitol Hill briefings on these topics, often bringing in experts from academia, business, and government to provide a broad range of perspectives.

About Science and Impacts

The Earth’s average surface temperature has increased by 1.4°F (0.8°C) since the early years of the 20th century. The 10 warmest years on record (since 1850) have all occurred since 1998. The 10 warmest years to date are 2010, 2005, 1998, 2003, 2002, 2009, 2006, 2007, 2004, 2001.

The scientific consensus is that global warming is largely the result of increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The growth in emissions is caused by human activities, primarily fossil fuel combustion and changes in land use, such as agriculture and deforestation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects an increase of future average global surface temperature in the range of 2.0°F to 11.5°F (1.1°C to 6.4°C) by 2100, with warming in the United States expected to be about 50 percent greater. This warming, along with the associated changes in precipitation, drought, heat waves, and sea-level rise, will have important consequences for the U.S. environment and economy. Globally, climate change presents many challenges, particularly in poorer countries far less able to cope with a changing climate and in low-lying countries where sea level rise will cause severe damage to society and ecosystems.

C2ES's Science and Impacts Program educates the public and policymakers about the climate system and the environmental and economic implications of climate change for the United States, including impacts on natural ecosystems and resources, social systems, human health, and infrastructure. C2ES publishes a series of peer-reviewed scientific reports written by experts on the environmental impacts of climate change. Workshops sponsored by C2ES explore the implications of environmental impacts for climate change policy. C2ES constantly builds relationships with members of the scientific, policy, and business community to increase awareness regarding the science and impacts of climate change.

The Pew Center's Science and Impacts Program aims to advance policymakers' understanding of the climate system and the consequences of global warming for the United States.
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