Keep your eyes on the road when you’re driving, but when you can safely see your surroundings, you may notice that trees and blossoming flowers have already posted the news that spring has arrived in the middle of what used to be called winter.

We hesitate to discuss weather and the seasons but it’s obvious that something is going on that can be verified in our digital age.

The NOAA’s National Centers scientists announced on February 13 that there has never been a warmer January than last month.

What’s more, the temperature departure from average was the highest monthly departure ever recorded without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Winter is often described by meteorologists to be the three calendar months with the lowest average temperatures. This corresponds to the months of December, January and February in the Northern Hemisphere and June, July and August in the Southern Hemisphere.

The four warmest Januarys documented in the climate record have occurred since 2016; The 10 warmest have all occurred since 2002. It’s beginning to look like a trend.

Lots of regional heat is being charted. Record-warm temperatures were seen across part of Scandinavia, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the central and western Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and Central and South America. No land or ocean areas had record-cold January temperatures.

Polar sea ice coverage remained smaller than normal. Arctic sea ice extend (coverage) was 5.3% below the 1981-2010 average, tying with 2014 as the eighth-smallest January extent in the 42-year record.

Snow cover was lacking. Northern Hemisphere snow coverage was below the 1981-2010 average, having the 18th-smallest January snow coverage in the 54-year record.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said “Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”

Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

In our nation’s Southwest, increased heat, drought and insect outbreaks, all linked to climate change, have increased wildfires. Declining water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, health impacts in cities due to heat and flooding and erosion in coastal areas are additional concerns.   

If you don’t believe the scientists, just ask the flowers, bees and blooming trees during this mislabeled wintertime.

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