What is in this article?:
- Southeast climate not following global warming trend
- Southeast and Florida not much warmer
- IPCC report has weaknesses
- Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change says that man’s activities and greenhouse gases are at least half to blame for rising global temperatures.
- The Southeast, including northern and central Florida, is one region in the world that hasn’t experienced much warming due to greenhouse gases.
- In Florida, man has impacted temperatures, but mostly due to urban development where concrete and asphalt now absorb and hold more heat than the natural environment they replaced.
THE UNITED NATIONS sponsored Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change assessment says with higher certainty that man is to blame for global climate warming. But in the Southeast, that warming trend doesn't seem to be happening.
Southeast and Florida not much warmer
But the Southeast, including northern and central Florida, is one region that hasn’t experienced much warming due to greenhouse gases, Zierden says.
“Our historic data records show that the climate of the Southeast was characterized by relatively warm decades in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s and cooler decades in the 1960s through 1980s. In northern Alabama and northern Georgia, some of the hottest years on record and many daily heat records occurred in the 1930s,” he says.
In Florida, man has impacted the climate, but mostly by changing the land, he says. Temperatures have risen along the southeast Florida coast by more than a 1 degree F in the last 40 years.
“Much of this can be attributed to urban development, where cities built of concrete and asphalt now absorb and hold more heat than the natural environment they replaced. Similar trends are observed in other urbanized areas like Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and the I-4 corridor.
Other changes to the land surface have also impacted the local climate, like the draining of vast wetlands and their conversion to sugar cane fields around Belle Glade on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee,” he says.
To see local historical temperature and precipitation patterns in Florida, click here.
Will the Southeast continue to lag behind global warming trend? Probably.
“While global climate models have some skill at predicting changes to the global average temperature, they have much harder time predicting regional or local changes. Our geography and being surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean would suggest that temperature changes will be less here in Florida,” he says.
Florida and the Southeast might feel the changes predicted for other parts of the world in the future, or the region may not.
“However, that does not mean that we can sit back without taking action. With a nearly tropical climate, a small increase in temperature or changes in rainfall patterns could have a profound influence on natural and man-made systems. South Florida is already struggling with the reality of sea level rise. Human health and disease is and will be affected,” he says.