Thank you, climate change: More bad news for South Florida.
Not only will 2016 go down as the warmest year across the globe, but places like South Florida will likely see a drop in mild weather, the kind of days with near-perfect temperatures hovering between 64 and 86 degrees and little humidity.
On Wednesday, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that 2016 set a new high, the third year in a row marking a new record and continuing a trend — ongoing for years — that scientists say is directly related to greenhouse gases and carbon trapping heat across the planet.
“There’s some evidence and growing evidence that we’re doing something unique in a millennial complex,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a press briefing.
Across the globe, temperatures were on average 1.69 degrees warmer than the 57-degree average for the 20th century. While an intense El Niño over the last year might have magnified temperatures, a far bigger contributor to the temperatures is the ongoing trend, Schmidt said. The trend also means 2017 will likely rank among the top five in record high temps, although without the El Niño and the onset of a La Niña, this year will not likely break 2016’s new record, he said.
The news comes as NOAA and Princeton University predict the number of mild weather days will likely drop by 10 to 13 percent over the next century. In a study published Wednesday, scientists say the tropics can expect a sharper decline, with the hardest hit areas in Africa, Asia and South America — places where the economic peril linked to bad weather can be more treacherous — seeing 15 to 50 fewer days of mild weather.
15 to 50The decrease in the number of days of perfect weather in the tropics under climate change predictions.
For the study, the authors said they wanted to look at “relatable weather” that the public might be more likely to experience rather than extremes like flooding from sea rise that has hammered Miami Beach and could force millions across the state to flee.
Good weather can also be an economic factor, with travel, construction and the movement of goods disrupted by extreme events.
“We believe improving the public understanding of how climate change will affect something as important as mild weather is an area ripe for more research,” NOAA scientist and co-author Sarah Kapnick said. “Predicting changes in mild weather is not only important to business and industry, but can also contribute to research on the future of physical and mental health, leisure and urban planning.”
If there are no changes in population distribution, people around the globe on average will have 11 fewer days a year of good weather, they found. On the upside, people who live in colder latitudes with bad weather — hello Cleveland — can expect to see an increase in mild weather.
While 2016 now stands apart as a new record in highs, scientists say it is more important to look at overall trends. To calculate the impact from greenhouse gases, scientists look for the fingerprints from different contributors like volcanoes and solar events. They also look at data collected over decades, which now show the planet inching closer to a 2.7-degree increase limit agreed to by 200 nations at the 2015 Paris climate talks to keep the planet from overheating.
“It’s a pretty unmistakable signal,” said Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA’s global monitoring branch. “These data sets are all singing the same song even if they’re hitting different notes along the way. The pattern is pretty clear.”
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich