|August 20, 2014|
As world's oceans heat up, Norway sizzles and Arkansas shivers
|Arkansas and Indiana experienced temperatures last month that were lower than any recorded in July during the past 120 years, continuing what scientists say is a monthslong cold spell east of the Rocky Mountains.|
Temperatures in Arkansas dipped 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit below the 20th-century average, toppling its previous cold record set in July 1967, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Even as much of the United States is enjoying a breezy summer, other nations are seeing record heat. July was the warmest month on record in Norway, which experienced temperatures that were 7.7 degrees higher than the 30-year average ending in 1990. Norwegian record books go back to 1900.
In Denmark, it was the second-warmest July since 1874. The nation also set a record for the number of days surpassing 77 degrees -- 15.5 days this year compared with an average of 2.6.
The globe's hot and cold distribution can complicate the communication of climate change. But it can also create an opportunity to portray relationships between global patterns, said Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NOAA's Climatic Data Center.
"In some ways it is challenging," he said. "We are all -- all of us -- much more sensitive to what's going on immediately around us. That's why we take measurements around the world, so we don't assume what's going on in our backyard is true everywhere.
"It's an opportunity as well to realize that we live in a really big, complex climate system."
In the big picture, global average land temperature was the 10th highest for July over the last 135 years, at 1.33 degrees above the 20th-century average of 57.8 degrees, according to NOAA.
The world's waters were warmer. Average global sea surface temperatures tied 2009 as the highest for July, at 1.06 degrees above the 20th-century average of 61.5 degrees. "Much warmer than average and record warm temperatures were prevalent in every major ocean basin," NOAA said.
That likely contributed to the abnormal weather patterns in the U.S. When portions of the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles off the coast of Alaska and the Northwest U.S. are warmer than usual, Western states like California tend to be hot while states east of the Rockies are cool, Arndt said. That happens when cool air from the north plummets deep into the U.S.
If that happened regularly, places like Arkansas might see major population shifts, joked one climate scientist from the area.
"I was in Fayetteville, Ark., for the entire month of July and can tell you that if summers were like that every year, then half the country would live there," said David Stahle of the University of Arkansas.