Have you wondered if your state just had the hottest, driest, wettest, etc. month? You can get this information from NOAA’s Statewide Ranking page. For example, the graphic here is for California for July 2021. The output will provide ranking information for 1-12, 18, 24, 36, 48, and 60-month time periods. The 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 month periods ending in July 2021 have been the hottest on record going back 127 years. The page allows users to select a state and various periods. Each output also has a link to the data. An overview and definitions of these ranking is given on the Climatological Rankings page.
From NOAA’s Global Climate Report – July 2021:
As a whole, the July 2021 global surface temperature was the highest for July since global records began in 1880 at 0.93°C (1.67°F) above the 20th-century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F). This value surpassed the previous record set in 2016 (and subsequently matched in 2019 and 2020) by only 0.01°C (0.02°F). Because July is the warmest month of the year from a climatological perspective, July 2021 was more likely than not the warmest month on record for the globe since 1880. Nine of the 10 warmest Julys have occurred since 2010, with the last seven Julys (2015-2021) being the seven warmest Julys on record.
The data is available at the top of the page under Additional Resources.
The IPCC sixth assessment report was just released. The graph here is from the summary for policymakers. The 42 page summary could be used as part of a sustainability or QL type course as there are plenty of graphs. Page 15 starts the discussion on the different scenarios, which is an opportunity to talk about modeling and assumptions. For a sense of the long term consequences:
In the longer term, sea level is committed to rise for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt, and will remain elevated for thousands of years (high confidence). Over the next 2000 years, global mean sea level will rise by about 2 to 3 m if warming is limited to 1.5°C, 2 to 6 m if limited to 2°C and 19 to 22 m with 5°C of warming, and it will continue to rise over subsequent millennia (low confidence). Projections of multi-millennial global mean sea level rise are consistent with reconstructed levels during past warm climate periods: likely 5–10 m higher than today around 125,000 years ago, when global temperatures were very likely 0.5°C–1.5°C higher than 1850–1900; and very likely 5–25 m higher roughly 3 million years ago, when global temperatures were 2.5°C–4°C higher (medium confidence).
From the climate.gov article Western Drought 2021 Spotlight: Arizona by Tom Di Liberto (7/29/2021):
Looking back even farther by using a drought indicator known as the Standardized Precipitation Index, the current drought in Arizona is also the worst on record back to the late 1800s. Going back even farther than THAT by using tree rings across the Southwest as stand-ins for soil moisture, the current drought over the entire region is one of a handful of the worst droughts in the last 1200 years. Other especially bad droughts occurred in the late 1500s and late 1200s (known as the Great Drought). Basically, this is a long-winded way of saying the current drought in Arizona and the Southwest is bad no matter if you look back 10 years, 100 years, or 1,000 years.
The graph copied here shows that it has been 6 years since a wet year with 2020 precipitation the lowest since 1900. And, of course:
According to the Climate Science Special Report, temperatures across the Southwest have increased by 1.61 degrees Fahrenheit since the first half of the 20th century. These increases in temperature contribute to aridification in the Southwest by increasing evapotranspiration, lowering soil moisture, reducing snow cover and impacting snowmelt.
Looking to the future, temperatures in the Southwest are projected to increase by the end of the century by around 5 degrees Fahrenheit if carbon dioxide emissions follow a lower path and up to 9 degrees if emissions follow a much higher path. Increasing temperatures can make soils even drier, amplifying drought.
There are other graph in the article but no direct links to data. Still, there is good information and plenty of material for a QL course.
The June 2021 global surface temperature was the fifth highest for June in the 142-year record at 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average. Only Junes of 2015 (fourth warmest), 2016 (second warmest), 2019 (warmest), and 2020 (third warmest) were warmer and had a global temperature departure above +0.90°C (+1.62°F). Nine of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2010.
But June seemed hot you say? Yup:
The global land-only surface temperature for June 2021 was the highest on record at 1.42°C (2.56°F) above average. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2019 by +0.11°C (+0.20°F). The ten warmest June global land-only surface temperatures have occurred since 2010. The unusually warm June global land-only surface temperature was mainly driven by the very warm Northern Hemisphere land, which also had its highest June temperature departure at +1.69°C (+3.04°F). The now second highest June temperature for the Northern Hemisphere occurred in 2012 (+1.51°C / +2.72°F).
Time series data is available at the link near the top of the page.
Berkeley Earth summarizes the recent heatwave in the Pacific Northwest in the article The Pacific Northwest Heatwave in Context (7/6/2021). The graph by Dr. Robert Rohde copied here is striking and really says all that needs to be said. This is a graph that everyone should have to study and understand. This was anything but a typical heatwave.
There are other graphs and links to dedicated data pages for Washington State, Oregon, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and Canada. On these pages there are more graphs and links to the data that created the graphs.
The article NASA and Hurricanes: Five Fast Facts by Katy Mersmann (6/1/2021) has the answers.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season starts today, June 1. Our colleagues at NOAA are predicting another active season, with an above average number of named storms. At NASA, we’re developing new technology and missions to study storm formation and impacts, including ways to understand Earth as a system.
The third fact:
Climate change is likely causing storms to behave differently. One change is in how storms intensify: More storms are increasing in strength quickly, a process called rapid intensification, where hurricane wind speeds increase by 35 mph (or more) in just 24 hours.
In 2020, a record-tying nine storms rapidly intensified. These quick changes in storm strength can leave communities in their path without time to properly prepare.
Researchers at NASA JPL developed a machine learning model that could more accurately detect rapidly intensifying storms.
There are fantastic images (such as the one copied here – incorporate it into a Calc III course?) and short videos. Climate.gov has a starting point for hurricane data: Historical Hurricane Tracks – GIS Map Viewer. A past post on hurricanes: Are hurricanes lingering near the coast longer?
After about a 4 year hiatus, the EPA’s page Climate Change Indicators in the United Stats has been updated with “Twelve new indicators and several years of data have been added to EPA’s indicator suite.” One new indicator is Permafrost:
The Deadhorse site in northern Alaska had the highest rate of temperature change, at +1.5°F per decade. The Livengood site in interior Alaska was the only site to get cooler over the period of record, though only slightly. Overall, permafrost temperatures have increased at an average rate of 0.6°F per decade.
There are csv files to download the data and background information about the indicators. This is an excellent resource page.
NOAA has this data on the 1991-2020 U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access page.
The 2020 U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access tool provides access to data from the most recent version of the U.S. Climate Normals. This iteration of the Normals product provides 30 year averages of temperature, precipitation, and other climate variables measured at more than 15,000 U.S observation stations from 1991–2020, as well as a set of 15 year supplemental normals for 2006–2020.
The image here is a screen shot of monthly normals for one of the Ithaca, NY locations. On the top right corner of the graph there is a link to download the data, which is also in a table below the graph.
From NOAA’s Global Climate Report – March 2021:
Following a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) in February 2021, a strongly positive AO was present in March 2021. In a positive phase, the jet stream strengthens and circulates the North Pole, confining the cold Arctic Air across the Polar Regions. The AO value for March 2021 was 2.11—the fifth highest March value since 1950. The peak value on March 11 was the ninth highest daily value and the third highest for a day in March. In addition, during March 2021, La Niña continued to be present across the tropical Pacific Ocean; however, it weakened in strength.
The global surface temperature departure of +0.85°C (+1.53°F) in March 2021 was the smallest March temperature departure since 2014 and was the eighth highest for March in the 142-year record. March 2021 also marked the 45th consecutive March and the 435th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.
The data is available near the top of the page under Temperature Anomalies Time Series.