Last summer for a few days it was cooler in Arkansas than in Missouri or Michigan. Climate change is not always bad. Tornadoes also seem to be less prevalent here lately. Missouri and other Northern states are getting hit more and central and southeast Arkansas less. So maybe there is good reason that climate deniers are more prevalent in Southern states as several studies have indicated.
As the map shows, many areas of the South have been having cooler winters over the last few years. As the rest of the nation warms up, we are cooling down.
The unusually cold weather has produced a mix of outcomes for farmers, wildlife and human residents. South Carolina peach farmers welcome a certain number of cold winter days for their trees to produce a full crop. But they’ve been walloped when a freeze arrives late, as have Florida’s citrus growers and Georgia’s Vidalia onion farmers.
Across the region, the cold helps knock pests, but it can stress native flora and fauna. Some 35 manatees died of cold stress syndrome in January 2018, according to a preliminary report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The cold also numbed the state’s invasive iguanas, some of which started falling out of trees in January, prompting Floridians to rush to their rescue.
According to the Third National Climate Assessment, part of the Southeastern United States experienced much cooler than normal temperatures in the years between 1991 and 2012. The phenomenon is so contrary to the rest of the country and the world that it has been labelled a “global warming hole.”
Why the hole exists is an open question. National Geographic published an article summarizing the major theories, if you are interested.
The most recent (2018) theory is that relatively warmer air in the Arctic is pushing the still cold Arctic air deeper into the US. So cold air which once only reached Ohio, is now getting down to Alabama. You can read the article propounding this theory at this link.
This study was based their on examining NOAA data from 1,407 temperature stations and 1,722 rain stations across the United States, from 1901 until 2015. They then identified stations that were persistently cooler than average from 1960 to 2015.
They found that daily temperatures in the hole have cooled by an average of 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958, whereas global average temperatures have risen 1 degree over the same time period.
The most recent data is shown on the following map which shows that Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama are the states with the largest decreases in temperatures from 1895 to 2018.
The bottom line is the climate change will not occur in any regular, predictable fashion. Mother Nature is striking back at us in strange and unexpected ways. Some of these might even be nice. If you like thunderstorms, then you’ll get few more thrills from as the climate changes.
And the South may continue to get cooler. Or not.