Is the earth getting warmer at the same rate everywhere?
If the earth is warming, is it getting warmer at the same rate everywhere?
Well, I guess the intuitive answer is No, and that happens to be the correct answer too.
Owing to global warming, Earth’s average annual air temperature – both on land and over sea – is rising, but not necessarily to the same extent in every single location across the globe.
Why is this so?
Temperature trends across the entire globe aren’t uniform because of the diverse geography on our planet – oceans versus continents, lowlands versus mountains, forests versus deserts versus ice sheets – as well as natural climate variability.
It is only when scientists calculate the average of temperature changes from every place on Earth over the course of a year to produce a single number, and then look at how that number has changed over time that a very clear, global warming trend emerges.
In other words, it’s only when we “zoom out” to the planet-wide scale that the trend is obvious: while we might observe some regions not warming at all or even experiencing an overall cooling trend, the vast majority of places across the globe are warming.
So, are there current trends on which of the regions worldwide are warming faster than the others? Here are some nuggets:
- Studies have shown that the Northern Hemisphere is warming significantly faster than the Southern Hemisphere, largely because it has more landmass. Water takes much longer to heat than land does, and the Southern Hemisphere is full of water!
- A recent study looked at what will be happening to many states in the US as the world approaches 2 additional degrees of warming, and found that every region of the contiguous United States will reach 2 degrees Celsius 10 to 20 years before the global average gets there. (Source; here’s a neat map of the regional effects of global warming in the United States, and here’s another report ).