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Data in Maine Mirror National and Global Data Showing Warming Climate

In response to this morning’s article observing a long-term trend of warming winter temperatures with a measured, negative economic impact on local agriculture in the northeastern United States, Al Hopfmann, Irregular Times’s visiting Cold Earther, argued that, “For as long as I can remember (many decades), the weather where I leave [sic] in the Northeast has been quite variable and very difficult to predict reliably.”

For as long as I can remember (many decades), the weather where I live in the Northeast has never until this year brought multiple days in February with temperatures up in the 60s and 70s. Never before has the northeast’s variability included such extremes.

Let’s not rely on subjective memories, however – either those of Mr. Hopfmann or those of myself. Let’s look at the available data.

It’s undeniable to any serious person that there has been a consistent trend of global warming for many decades, as this chart from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration shows.

Climate change data planetary

What about the more regional climate in the northeastern United States? Could Mr. Hopfmann be correct that temperature has merely fluctuated within natural variability, without a warming trend? Maine is the most northeastern of all northeastern states. Let’s start today by looking at what climatological data there shows.

According to the most recent study by the University of Maine, the agricultural growing season has gotten longer over the last century and a half.

History of Maine agriculture

The average annual temperature in Maine has also been increasing over the decades.

warming climate in Maine scientific data chart

It’s not just an occasional day of record warmth that Maine is witnessing now. As the University of Maine climate update shows, the entire months of December, January, and February showed record warmth. This unusual winter heat is having negative impacts, from threatened fruit crops to melting ski slopes. “The unreliability of winter weather means that seasonal events and activities, many of which are important to local economies, often have to be rescheduled or cancelled altogether,” the University’s report explains.

In Maine, at least, Al Hopfmann’s glib dismissal doesn’t match the data. There is a long term trend of climate warming in Maine, with negative economic impacts for the people who live there.

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