Mild Winter Makes March Madness

The month of March was unusually warm in the U.S. Some media have said this is more evidence of, or “consistent with” global warming. See this over-the-top storyin the Arizona Daily Star. But the mild winter has nothing to do with anthropogenic global warming.

Even the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) of NOAA does not attribute the warm winter to global warming:

Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. The average temperature of 51.1 degrees F was 8.6 degrees F above the 20th century average for March and 0.5 degrees F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.

A persistent weather pattern during the month led to 25 states east of the Rockies having their warmest March on record. An additional 15 states had monthly temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. That same pattern brought cooler-than-average conditions to the West Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California.

Here is the March temperature record according to NCDC.


Notice that March, 1910, was almost as warm. Dr. Martin Hoerling, of NOAA, writes:

“Various hypotheses on this heatwave’s plausible causes were tested, some verified, some refuted. Though preliminary and not final in its conclusions, it is demonstrated that much of the heatwave magnitude can be explained from a perspective of elementary physical understanding of the consequences of unusually strong and persistent poleward heat transport by low level southerly winds that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Prairie.”

Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, agrees that the southerly wind component was the chief cause:

[O]ne of the basic concepts you learn in meteorology is “mass continuity”. If there is persistent and widespread southerly flow over the U.S., there must be (by mass continuity) the same amount of northerly flow elsewhere at the same latitude.

That means that our unusual warmth is matched by unusual coolness someplace else.

If you claim, “Well, maybe global warming caused the extra southerly flow!”, you then are also claiming (through mass continuity) that global warming ALSO caused extra northerly flow (with below normal temperatures) somewhere else.

And no matter what anyone has told you, global warming cannot cause colder than normal weather. It’s not in the physics. The fact that warming has been greatest in the Arctic means that the equator-to-pole temperature contrast has been reduced, which would mean less storminess and less North-South exchange of air masses — not more.

See also:

20th Century temperatures explained as natural recovery from Little Ice Age



    The basics of global warming is the warming oceans and seas fueling storms by the heat stored and released into the storms that we experience. The bottom illustration shows the gulf of mexico has record warming for this time of year. This was what helped to fuel the March Heat wave. This is also the same body of water that helped to fuel the tornado outbreak just this last weekend that killed 6 people. Assuming that same record warmth is maintained all summer, that same record warmth will help fuel any hurricanes that could come steaming through.

    The Gulf of Mexico could be  loading the dice of weather all through the year. It will be interesting to see what the GOM SST will be through the year. Since I live in the midwest the GOM will be effecting my weather.

    AGW is there. The GOM does reflect extra energy harbored by the earth from co2 reflection back to the surface. 90% of the energy is harbored in the oceans. The atmosphere only has about 3% of content.

  2. Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, agrees that the southerly wind component was the chief cause:


    If you are talking about March only then the dice were still loaded. The east-west flow of the jet stream is slowing down from global warming. That and the record temperatures of the GOM loaded the dice. The notherly or southerly flow isn’t really the issue, its the loaded dice when the right conditions occur. Its happened twice just in the last month from the same source GOM.

    All records that I am aware of show warming including Roy Spencer’s UAH records.From about 1980 on as you plug in the different temperature records, they show an increased temp rate per decade. This correlates to me with our increase in co2 emissions. The basics are there. land oceanTrend: 0.059 ±0.007 °C/decade (2σ)
    THis starts at 1880 and ends with the last of the GISS temperature record.
    noaa recordTrend: 0.061 ±0.007 °C/decade (2σ)
    starts at 1880 same ending as above
    hadcrut 3Trend: 0.044 ±0.007 °C/decade (2σ)
    starts at 1840 to today
    hadcrut 4Trend: 0.045 ±0.006 °C/decade (2σ)
    1840 to today
    Best landTrend: 0.059 ±0.009 °C/decade (2σ)
    1800 to today
    NOAA landTrend: 0.059 ±0.009 °C/decade (2σ)
    1880 to today
    Satellite RSSTrend: 0.137 ±0.076 °C/decade (2σ)
    1980 to today
    Satellite UAHTrend: 0.136 ±0.078 °C/decade (2σ)
    1980 to today

    1. Once again Renewableguy seems confused about normal variation, warming and cooling, and the causes of these variation.  Still no proof of AGW as the major cause.

      1. Falsification is the ultimate win for doubters and yet they have not produced the arrow that will slay AGW. If AGW is really wrong this low bar evidnece to reach has not been accomplished. Yet the absolute high bar of evidence you require in which 95% certainty has been proclaimed by a conservative science body of the IPCC, what is your absolute proof Jon? Can you name it without shifting the goal posts later?

  3. I couldn’t be happier that you have brought up normal variation (NV). What NV means to someone reluctant to accept AGW is that this is all NV and therefore AGW (anthroprogenic global warming) is not a problem. It also means to the reluctanct souls that the scientists forgot to consider NV in their studies, because they are blind zealots chasing after funding. Bad scientists are weeded out and then hired by the heritage foundation out of Chicago which is close to where I live.
    Look again up at what I have posted from the different temperature records including Roy Spencer’s UAH. All records show warming. The IPCC says there is 95% certainty that the earth has warmed from AGW. You don’t like SKS website, go to woods for trees website. They have a great deal of temp records that can be graphed for you.
    The three strongest NV are ENSO (el nino, La Nina), aerosols, and TSI (total solar irradiance) or variations of the sun. The Foster and Rahmstorf method of removing this natural variation has an interesting effect. Notice that the  raw data has a slightly lower number than the adjusted data. When removing NV from the temperature data, it shows the true warming that is taking place on the earth. It also shows that NV is slightly cooling. THis also means that AGW is overwhelming the natural variation and then some. All temp records when used properly, meaning long term trend, show warming. The temp record from BEST shows warming since 1800.

    Here is GISS raw 1980 to 2010

    Trend: 0.167 ±0.050 °C/decade (2σ)

    Here is GISS adjusted 1980 to 2010

    Trend: 0.171 ±0.026 °C/decade (2σ)

    Back to the Gulf Of Mexico. From reading about GOM last Trenberth was saying a portion of the excess energy in the record SST was from AGW. About 1*F, that was last year. This year we are even higher with record SST.

    1. Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) cited Trenberth et al (2002) who says: “Although it is possible to use regression to eliminate the linear portion of the global mean temperature signal associated with ENSO, the processes that contribute regionally to the global mean differ considerably, and the linear approach likely leaves an ENSO residual.”  The residuals are a significant contributor to sea surface temps.

      Furthermore, F & R defined ENSO only as a linear trend, but other researchers have said that defining ENSO in terms of a single index and ENSO-related variations in terms of regressions on that index, as done in many studies, can lead to wrong conclusions.  Also ENSO, just one of the many natural patterns, leave residual heat.

      1. They are using a form of subtracting natural variation. There are plenty more studies showing NV is quite small compared to AGW. If you go to the website and they show raw vs. adjusted this takes  out the highs and lows.

        Overall, Foster and Rahmstorf find that ENSO has the largest impact on short-term temperature variations, followed by volcanic activity, with solar irradiance a distant third.  However, the contributions of each factor to the 32-year temperature trends were very similar (Table 2, Figure 2).
        Table 2: Trends in  °C/decade of the signal components due to MEI, AOD and TSI in the regression of global temperature, for each of the five temperature records from 1979 to 2010.

  4. Here are two videos with experts describing what and why of the understanding of AGW and March heat wave, tornadoes, and jet stream. 

    1. The speculative fiction portrayed in the videos still present no physical evidence of carbon dioxide emission causation.

      1. Just as you are a professional in your field that we can tell so well, these are every bit the professional you are. One is a republican meteorologist that says its time for climate change to be a neutral accepted subject. I invite you to work a little more and even watch the videos. How about a little more objectivity on your part?

        Maybe you have explanations why the artic is warming?

        Is the warming in the artic effecting our weather?
        If you watched the video, they show observations of how the jetstream has changed and why.

        Did you see the part about the formation of tornados?
        Climate models are noticing conflicting forces of whether more torandoes will form. Its very honest. Would you like to talk about that?

        They have talked about more water vapor in the atmosphere.
        If you noticed that there are record SST in the gulf of mexico. Definitely a result of a warming world from  increased co2 in the atmosphere.

        I’ve covered the 10 finger prints of global warming with you before. 110 ppm co2 increase since about 1850 is human caused. THe earth isn’t emitting more co2 than it absorbs yet. When it absorbs less and less co2 in the oceans, the atmosphere will take up the remainder increasing out atmospheric co2.

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