Climate Cast: This week’s top climate stories; Airs Thursdays at 9:50am on The Daily Curcuit

Updraft & The Daily Circuit Present: Climate Cast

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These days it seems like we are witnessing climate changes unfold right before our very eyes.

It’s not our imagination.

The nature of our seasons is changing. Spring blooms come earlier. Summer is more humid with a documented increase in extreme localized flash flood events…and more frequent droughts. Fall lingers longer. Lakes freeze up later. Winters are shorter and noticeably, measurably milder.

We’re all living witnesses to rapid climate changes in our lifetime. This is no longer your grandparents “Minnesota.”

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Star Magnolias blooming over a snow free landscape in March

Image: Paul Huttner MPR News

In 2013 at MPR we’ll be devoting more coverage to the growing effects of our changing climate in Minnesota and around the globe. You can hear me discuss the week’s top climate stories in our new “Climate Cast” every Thursday morning at 9:50am with Kerri Miller on The Daily Circuit.

Here’s this week’s installment.

2012: Warmest year on record in Minnesota & USA

2012 was the warmest year in Minnesota since “The Dirty Thirties” and tied 1931 for warmest year on record in the Twin Cities. How far above average was 2012? Why was 2012 in the metro like living in Omaha?

How does the record warmth, floods and extreme drought of 2012 fit into the overall picture of climate change in Minnesota?

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Image: Twin Cities NWS

Here’s an excerpt from the Minnesota Climate Working Group on the record warmth of 2012.

2012 will finish in a tie with 1931 as the warmest year on record in the Twin Cities and will range from the warmest to third warmest on record depending on the location around the region.

For so long, it appeared like 2012 would be the warmest year on record for the Twin Cities, but then winter decided to arrive as if on cue on December 21 and since then temperatures have been mostly below normal. As a result, the average temperature for the Twin Cities for 2012 will wind up to be 50.8 degrees, the same as the 50.8 degrees recorded in 1931. The 1981-2010 average temperature for the year is 46.3 degrees so 2012 will finish 4.5 degrees above normal. Every month of 2012 was above normal except October which finished 1.4 degrees below normal. March 2012 was 15.5 degrees above normal and greatly assisted in lifting the average temperature for 2012.

The hottest day of 2012 in the Twin Cities was 102 degrees on July 6 and the coldest temperature of the year was -11 on January 19.

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Image: MN Climate Working Group

USA 2012: Hottest year on record brings blistering Midwest heat wave & drought

2012 is also the warmest year ever recorded in the USA . 2012 set or tied 33,753 daily record-high temperatures, compared to just 6,303 daily record-low temperature records.

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Image: Climate Central & NOAA

Climate Central adds some details.

Turning Up the Heat: Hottest Year on Record in the Lower 48 States

2012 will go down in history as the hottest year on record in the continental U.S., pushing 1998 into second place. In line with the global warming trend spurred by steadily rising carbon emissions, seven of the top 10 warmest years in the 48 states have occurred in the past 15 years.

Like so much recent record-breaking weather, 2012 isn’t just going to top the previous record, 2012 is looking to smash it, by more than 1°F. In mid-December, Climate Central projected that 2012 average temperature for the continental U.S. at 55.34°F compared to the previous record set in 1998 of 54.32°F. For perspective, 1°F is one-quarter of the difference between the coldest and warmest years ever recorded in the U.S.

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Top 5 Minnesota climate & weather events of 2012:

2012 advanced the pace of climate change in Minnesota. The patterns we observed in 2012 fit like a glove into the overall picture of climate changes observed in the past 30 years.

Did a warmer climate play a role in juicing the Duluth flood? Why is flood, then drought a possible signal of climate changes to come in Minnesota?

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Image: Duluth NWS

The Minnesota Climate Working Group expands on the top 5 weather and climate events of 2012 in Minnesota.

#1 Outrageously Mild March 2012

Imagine if you will a March that was so warm it would break six record high temperature records in the Twin Cities, have four days with muggy dew point temperatures that reached 60 and wound up warmer than October!

To top it off the Twin Cities had its earliest 80 degree temperature ever with 80 degrees on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. The old record was March 23 back in 1910. March 2012 will go down in history as one of the most bizarre months temperature-wise, finishing 15.5 degrees above normal. The only other month in the historical record for the Twin Cities that matches this feat was January 2006 that also finished 15.5 degrees above normal. As a consequence, spring phenology was exceedingly early with lilacs blooming the earliest on record in the Twin Cities, with many in full bloom by mid April.

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Lilacs ready to bloom in March.

Image: Paul Huttner – MPR News

More climate stories:

The New Yorker’s Top 10 signs of a warming planet in 2012:

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Here’s an excerpt.

Though it’s only mid-December, it’s already clear that 2012 will be the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. “The warm November virtually assures that 2012 will be the warmest year on record in the U.S.,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently observed. “The year-to-date period of January-November has been by far the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.-a remarkable 1.0°F above the previous record. ” The Web site Climate Central put it this way: “There is a 99.99999999 percent chance that 2012 will be the hottest year ever recorded in the continental 48 states.”

Shipping News: Extreme drought of 2012 brings Mississippi River to near record lows.

You could see this coming as the Great Drought of 2012 unfolded. Andrew Freedman from Climate Central has details.

At the New Madrid gauge in New Madrid, Mo., the Mississippi reached a record high of 48.35 feet on May 6, 2011. Just 15 months later, on Aug. 30, 2012, the gauge reading dropped to a record low of minus 5.32 feet. (River gauges are calibrated to a particular elevation, known as a “zero datum,” which means that they don’t always equal the depth of water in the channel. So in this case, the record low was 5.32 feet below the zero-datum elevation at New Madrid.)

Climate Cast resources:

Want to know more about climate change? Here are few quick links to credible climate change sources.

-NOAA NCDC’s “State of the Climate” report

-AMS Statement on Climate Change

-NASA key evidence of climate change

-Great summary of Modern Day Climate Change from SUNY-Suffolk

-Minnesota Climate Working Group climate change resources

-Common climate change myths

-Climate change in the news from Climate Central

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