Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot July

It’s blistering outside but cool in my basement. The head doesn’t work in the heat and must be distracted. I’ve distracted myself by looking for long-term temperature charts provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mind, they don’t actually administer the oceans and the atmosphere; nor do they service the weather through the National Weather Service. But they measure and record things. Here, for instance, are charted data for two years, 2000 and 2010, showing both temperature and precipitation for the Detroit, MI metro area:

Of interest here is the dark blue quiver overlaying the green and topped and tailed by pink and blue. The dark blue indicates actual highs and lows. I’ve looked at a decade of such charts, and with one exception (2003, in which August looked hotter), July uniformly ranks as the hottest month. The inset is a legend to the graph above. Clicking it will make it easier to comprehend. The pink colors are all time highs, the blue the all time lows, and the green is an average of the highs and lows.

If we compare the two years, looking at July, we see that temperatures were generally lower in 2000 than in 2010. And looking at all of the annual plots (available here—and you can enter your own city to localize the display) shows a steady increase in temperature to the current time.

The graphic on the left shows July-only data for 2000, 2010, and 2011. I graphed the 2011 data myself from published figures through July 21, thus yesterday. 2011 looks like it is aiming for a record too…

Knowing which I pause for a moment to contemplate our fate. The dehumidifier is working hard in the background by the work bench, its sound rather calming, reassuring. It’s still working—and my screen is lit—but several very large communities are without power. The basement may still be cooler than the living room—and in those power-challenged communities you will enter the bedrooms upstairs at your own peril. The flashlight directed at the screen of the computer downstairs will show nothing but screen! Ah, the bennies and brownouts of a high tech society.

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