The first day of fall was Sept. 22, but that has not stopped students from wearing short sleeves and tennis shoes to class. The weather in October has been warmer than usual in St. Cloud, Minnesota. So far, October has been two and a half degrees higher than usual; it will for sure be one degree above the average. The summer and fall have been warmer because we are coming off of one of the warmest winters of all time.
“Even if November and December have average temperatures, we are on track to become the 10th warmest year in St. Cloud history,” said Bob Weisman of the Earth and Hydrologic Science department. Weisman is a professor of Meteorology and has been working at St. Cloud State University for 29 years. He wakes up every weekday morning to send out a weather report to the campus at 3:15 a.m.
Some people argue that St. Cloud’s warmer temperatures are due to global warming. NASA has a record of the Earth’s average temperature from 1880-2015 (graph). The average Earth temperature is around two degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was in the 1800s.
Though two degrees Fahrenheit might not seem like much, Weisman said “it takes an enormous amount of energy to make Earth’s overall temperature change.” In fact, 2015 was the warmest year globally.
Though these facts have been recorded, Weisman went on to say “St. Cloud being above normal [temperature] doesn’t prove global warming. You cannot prove or disprove global warming without looking, well, globally. If you Google global warming, you either get articles denying it, or articles saying it is going to be the end of the world.” He recommends that students look up NASA statistics when looking at temperature or climate changes.
According to Weisman, there are changes and trends happening, but they cannot specifically be proved by global warming. The changes could be positive or negative. From 1300-1800, the Earth’s overall climate was colder. Weisman said that “the moose in northern Minnesota are not as prevalent as they used to be; they need a cold climate.” Ecosystems are also used to specific types of weather, hence why there are more pine trees in Minnesota. Weisman also said some people, particularly in Minnesota, would enjoy a milder winter. “We will never be able to say there is global warming in the current time; you can’t tell a changed environment until it has already happened.” From 2012-2014, St. Cloud had two out of five of the snowiest winters from data recorded since 1882. “If global warming is happening, there will be milder winters, but this does not mean these snowy winters can not happen,” said Weisman.
The National Weather Service is predicting that this winter will likely be colder. “I don’t believe the predictions,” said Weisman. He said that the predictions are due to a water current in the tropical pacific that has not developed yet. To explain, he took out a quarter and flipped it. “Imagine if this quarter had three sides to it: above average, average, and below average,” said Weisman. He continued, “last year [The National Weather Service] hit it and guessed correctly; the year before that, they were killed.” He continued to say that it is hard to get an accurate forecast beyond a week.
It is important that students pay attention because when there are extremes in weather; people do not deal with it well. If people are not prepared for a different climate, there could be large economic losses. “I’m old, I am not going to be around in 2050,” said Weisman. “Young people have to deal with this. The changes could be good, but they could also be bad.”
Weisman will send out the final October weather report on Tuesday, Nov. 1.