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Terrible Nice Weather

23 Mar 2012  |   Lea Brumfield

As pleasant as an early spring might be, it’s a dangerous reminder of the encroaching effects of climate change.  This year’s record-breaking spring temperatures have been consistent with models of a warming global climate, and the increased extreme weather events are also likely related to global warming trends. Generally reluctant to link individual weather events with climate change, meteorologists and climate scientists are voicing their view of the connection.

When asked his scientific opinion on whether global warming might be contributing to this year’s high temperatures, Randall M. Dole, a deputy director of research at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo., replied, "Absolutely. The planet as a whole is warming, the continents on average are warming faster than the oceans, so there is a great body of scientific evidence that would support such an interpretation.”

Other scientists have described the extremely warm weather across North America with phrases like “mind-boggling,” “remarkable,” and “are you kidding me?”

Warm winters and early springs can spell more problems for the climate than sea level rise, particularly for farmers. A premature spring causes disparate schedules in pollen-dependent animals like bees and butterflies, and can disrupt blooming cycles for fruit-bearing trees, decimating farmers’ crop yields.

Scientists discuss the March Heat Wave at Climate Central.

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