Explaining climate and how it changes locally

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The Two Degree Difference

(WFFF) — According to NOAA scientists, since 1880, our planet’s global temperatures have warmed by two degrees Fahrenheit. The two-degree difference has warmed the oceans, losing us billions of tons of ice from Antarctica, raising sea levels nearly eight inches, and harming precious habitats.

While you might not notice these two degrees in an everyday forecast, subtle signs increasingly point to a warming climate. This can have big implications for local ecosystems, industries, and recreation.

First, there is a big difference between weather and climate. Weather is measured in hours, days, months, and sometimes years. Climate has a much larger time scale that looks at average weather conditions over thirty years or more.

Think of it this way: Weather tells you what to wear each day, while climate tells you what clothes to keep in your closet.

“Locally, we see variations that depend on proximity to a water body, like Lake Champlain, elevation differences, like we see in the Northeast Kingdom. And, the fact that the southeast part of the state is more like Massachusetts and New Hampshire because it is lower in elevation, and does not receive the moderating impacts of Lake Champlain,” said Vermont State Climatologist Dr. Leslie-Ann Dupigny Giroux.

Dr. Dupigny Giroux also says Vermont climate as a whole can be classified as a humid continental with warm muggy summers and cold, snowy winters.

“If you think about how the climate changes we need to look at it from a multi-scale perspective, but we also need to look at it from a variable perspective” she said.

Average temperatures continue to rise in Vermont. The average annual maximum temperature statewide increased by about .4 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1960, while minimum temperatures rose by .6 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.

Many are already seeing the results of these differences, including less lake and pond freeze overs, earlier springs, and longer growing seasons. These changes can have major impacts on local businesses, the economy, and ways of life.

“It’s not just precipitation and not just temperatures. But it’s also, are the droughts getting more severe or are we dealing with more flooding?” said Dr. Dupigny Giroux.

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