Dear Madame L,
I read your pal Aunt Louise's blog about March coming in like a lion, and stuff like that is what makes me doubt the theory of global warming. What can you tell me about that?
Global Warming Doubter
Where to start? A lot can be and has been written on this topic, which has become a political hot potato. Madame L should leave this one to the experts.
So, from our friends at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), here's the U.S. Climate Report for February and Winter 2011-2012:
"This is the fourth warmest winter on record, running almost 4 degrees F warmer than average.
"Warmer-than-average temperatures dominated the northern and eastern regions of the country in December, January and February, leading to the fourth warmest winter on record for the contiguous United States.
"The winter season was also drier-than-average for the Lower 48, with dry conditions experienced across the West and the Southeast but wetter-than-average conditions in the Central and Southern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley.
"The average contiguous U.S. temperature during the December-February period was 36.8 degrees F, 3.9 degrees F above the 1901-2000 long-term average — the warmest since 2000.
"The precipitation averaged across the nation was 5.70 inches, 0.78 inch below the long-term average."
This winter also had the third smallest snow cover in the 46-year satellite record, about 237,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average
The snowpack "was particularly limited across parts of the West, where parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona had snowpack less than half of average."
So, doubter, it really is getting warmer. The next question is whether this warming is a naturally recurring phenomenon or how much it might have been caused by humans; the next question is whether we can or should do something about it.
Madame L will have a few answers in future columns.