In partnership with nonprofit organizations, congregations, and universities, Will Steger Foundation co-hosts Eyewitness to Global Warming community forums on climate change solutions.
40,000 heat records have already been broken this year across the U.S. according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This year has definitely brought the U.S. the broad spectrum of extreme weather events that climate scientists have warned about for years.
"This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level. The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about," Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona, told The Associated Press.
Here in Minnesota, we’ve been hit with floods and unusual heat waves. “Duluth is maybe in the first wave of cities to adapt to climate change,” said University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark Seeley after the June 20th flood. Climate scientists say increasing precipitation, particularly from intense thunderstorms, is a symptom of ongoing climate warming because warm air holds more water vapor than cooler air.
There are a few bright spots worth highlighting that show we are getting serious about addressing climate change – for instance, 80 educators are registered for our annual Summer Institute to learn how to address climate change in the classroom, and over two million Americans have submitted comments in support of the first ever carbon rule. Read about these stories and more in this month’s newsletter.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson spoke at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities about the role of science in public health and environmental protection policy. The audience also got a glimpse of Jackson's personal life. She shared the story of her own son who suffers from asthma and her favorite policy, the "right to know" laws (I'm speculating this may have inspired the latest EPA website that makes information about the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitters searchable though an interactive map).
Arctic Oscillation Diagram
It’s hard not to notice the lack of winter across most of the country, at least in the lower 48 states. Two weeks ago a January heat wave smashed records from North Dakota to California before spreading into the Northeast. At least 1,500 daily record high temperatures were set during the period from January 2-8, including Minnesota. Real winter weather is just around the corner though, thanks to the Arctic Oscillation. The Arctic Oscillation is a pattern of atmospheric pressure that helps steer the jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere and is transitioning into a new phase. When it’s in a “positive phase” as it has been so far this winter, cold air tends to remain bottled up in the Arctic. In fact, the Arctic Oscillation has been extremely positive this winter, with the Arctic Oscillation index reaching its second-highest level on record, dating back to 1950. This is the opposite of how things were in December 2010 and January 2011, when the Arctic Oscillation was extremely negative and several major snowstorms slammed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Scientists do not fully understand what influences the behavior of the Arctic Oscillation, but some studies show links between it and the loss of Arctic sea ice, which is due in large part to global warming, and other research suggests that solar activity can have an effect on it as well. Our friend and Minnesota weather guru Paul Douglas was on MPR’s Midmorning show recently discussing our weird weather and more. Listen here.
At a recent school visit in Proctor, Minnesota in early January, Will Steger explained the difference between weather and climate and talked about how he navigated his expedition teams without a GPS unit using wind, the sun, and weather as a guide. Students were surprised to learn how skills he learned as a young child enabled him to survive in the Arctic. Learn more about Will's early observations and journals in our online classroom.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
On December 7 and December 8, 2011, in Princeton and Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the Will Steger Foundation, the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota, and Fresh Energy joined together to present public forums on Clean Air, Climate, and Health, with keynote speaker Will Steger.
You can view our full profile at the Charities Review Council.
Download our Action Template
Includes: Action! Plan & Worksheet