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A time for change

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It’s no surprise to anyone who works outside that the weather has been weird, and it’s getting weirder.

Nationwide, average temperatures have been getting warmer for years. We’ve got about two weeks’ worth of warmer days now than we did in the 1900s, with the west coast getting warmer than the east coast.

But why is this happening? Robert Krulwich, NPR science correspondent, in a review of “Global Weirdness,” a new book that examines worldwide climate change, explains why this is good for some and bad for others:

But what if we check out a smaller region, say the Sonoma/Napa wine country in California? There the data say, “The growing season has lengthened by a full 66 days, from 254 to 320, since 1950 — much to the delight of winemakers in the region.”

So this warming trend is welcome — if you grow grapes. But if you are a winter wheat farmer, and you need cool winter temperatures for your wheat to grow — then this is not a happy development.

Now comes the big question: Why is this happening? The Climate Central folks don’t jump to any quick conclusions. “Natural variations in climate account for some of these changes,” they say.

But here’s a clue: daytime has always been warmer than nighttime, (obviously, because the sun is up). But that difference is narrowing. The first frosts usually come at night, and sub-freezing nights are rarer now. Why would the nights be getting warmer?

You can read the full story here to find out.


September 18th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Posted in book

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