Surprising news about trend of America’s temperature and precipitation

Mar 15, 2017 by

Anthony Watts –

By Larry Kummer. Posted at the Fabius Maximus website.

Summary: News stories, in both local and national media, tend to describe climate change as a simple and omnipresent phenomenon. It’s not. Here we look at the surprising trends in US temperature and precipitation, and northern hemisphere snowfall.


There has been global warming during the past two centuries. But activists tend to attribute everything, anywhere, to warming. That’s not accurate. Warming is a complex phenomenon, not an omnipresent force.

Look at the history of the continental US, with one of the longest and most accurate records in the world. It has warmed during the era of human-dominated warming (“more than half of the observed increase in {temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in {greenhouse gases}”, per the IPCC’s AR5) at a rate of 0.30°F per decade (0.17°C) — oddly similar to the 0.33°F per decade (0.18°C) since the record began in 1895. But it has not done so smoothly, as activists often imply.

See this is graph of February temperatures, with the blue line showing flattish trend during the 25 years from 1983 to last month…


What does this graph tell us?

  • Temperatures are volatile from year to year over small areas (the 48 states are 1.6% of the Earth’s surface). Both sides play the game of Record HIGH here! Record LOW there! Let’s be too smart for that.
  • Ditto for temperature trends. Neither the flattish US February trend for 1983-2017 nor the steep cooling in February 1998-2017 of -0.61°F per decade (-0.34°C) proves global cooling. Nor does the steep warming of 9.7°F per decade (-5.4°C) of February 2010-2017 warn us of imminent incineration.
  • Climate change is complex. That’s why we have the iPCC (almost forgotten by journalists) and the major climate agencies to explain to us what is happening.

Another example of our complex climate.

As the world warms do we get more snow and rain — or less? Alarmists spin simple stories attributing all droughts to climate change. But precipitation in the US has increased: “Over the 121-year period of record (1895-1915), precipitation across the CONUS has increased at an average rate of 0.16 inch per decade.

Looking at the season just ended, Winter 2017 (Dec-Feb) in the continental US was the eighth wettest on record. Winter snow extent in the northern hemisphere was the ninth largest since 1967, and has been increasing at roughly 2% per year since 1967 — as shown on this graph.


What does the IPCC’s AR5 report say about droughts?

From the Summary for Policymakers

“Increases in intensity and/or duration of drought since 1950: low confidence on a global scale, likely changes in some regions. Assessment of a human contribution to observed changes: low confidence.”



Climate change is not a simple phenomenon, as often described by activists and journalists. They attribute all kinds of local or regional changes — such as in agriculture, diseases, animal populations and migrations. What they seldom do is show that the responsible factor (e.g., temperature or precipitation) has actually changed. That would often ruin the story.

Global warming is not a universal explanation for weather. There are large variously in climate change from region to region, due to poorly understood reasons. Extremes of weather are even more difficult to understand — they are a constant of history, with large decadal and even century-long cycles. Reducing these to simple stories is propaganda, not science.

For More Information

For more information about this vital issue see the keys to understanding climate change and these posts about the propaganda of climate change…

  1. Important: climate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
  2. How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future.
  3. A story of the climate change debate. How it ran; why it failed.
  4. Science into agitprop: “Climate Change Is Strangling Our Oceans”.
  5. Ignoring science to convince the public that we’re doomed by climate change.
  6. Put the stories about record 2016 warming in a useful context.
  7. A look at the future of global warming. Our political response depends on its trend.

Source: Surprising news about trend of America’s temperature and precipitation | Watts Up With That?

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