While those who live and vacation here in southwest Florida usually don’t dream of a white Christmas, rising global temperatures could be threatening that famous vision elsewhere.
According to data that was recently released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this past November was the warmest November ever recorded. However, the larger cause for concern was the amount the temperature departed from the historical average of the month. November was the second highest positive departure from this average since records were started, dating all the way back to January of 1880. The highest positive departure was the month preceding it, October of 2015.
It also makes 2015 the warmest on record, with only one month remaining to cement the annual average. Nine of the eleventh months of this year have set the record for highest recorded in NOAA’s databases.
While El Nino can take some of the blame for these warmer temperatures afflicting us, it may not explain these extremes. Of the energy El Nino releases into the atmosphere as heat, it can cause a positive departure from average temperatures at about 0.1 degree Celsius.
By comparison, November had a departure of around 0.97 degrees, and October had a departure of 0.99 degrees. September 2015 came in third all-time at 0.91 degrees.
Some have attributed two natural disasters that have occurred in the past month to these increases of temperature, both in excess of billions of dollars in damage. Over of a month of heavy monsoon-level rains have impacted the island nation of Sri Lanka off the southern tip of India, which continued into early December. Parts of the island’s urban area of Chennai was flooded with up to eight feet of water for a span of days, and 13 inches of rainfall was recorded in the span of 24 hours at one point. In all, the floods resulted in over 230 deaths.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, South Africa was hit with a vicious drought during the last month, with nearly 3 million households hit with water shortages, as well as dire impacts on livestock in the afflicted provinces.