Minnesota's average low temperature rose faster than any other state's since 1970, says new study

A new study finds that Minnesota's climate has warmed significantly since 1970.
A new study finds that Minnesota's climate has warmed significantly since 1970.

Coming on the heels of a remarkably warm winter and spring not even included in the data, a new study put together by the Climate Central non-profit reveals that Minnesota's climate has warmed significantly since 1970.

The study found Minnesota's average low temperature increased at a per-decade rate of 0.748 degrees from 1970 through 2011 -- the largest increase of any state. Over the same timeframe, Minnesota's average daily temperature increased by 0.620 degrees per decade, the third-largest increase in the country behind only Arizona and Michigan.

Overall, the study found that whether you look at the past century or just the last 40 years, the states that have warmed the most are northern-tier states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Maine, and southwest states like Arizona and New Mexico. The states that warmed the least are found in the southeast, like Florida and Alabama, and central midwest, like Iowa and Nebraska.

Three states -- Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama -- had small average temperature decreases over the past century, but all 50 states have warmed since 1970.

From 1912 through last year, the average temperature in the continental US warmed by about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Study authors write that "the pace of warming in all regions accelerated dramatically starting in the 1970s, coinciding with the time when the effect of greenhouses gases began to overwhelm the other natural and human influences on the climate at the global and continental scales."

If anything, the warming trend has accelerated thus far in 2012. From today's Star Tribune:

This spring was the warmest in Twin Cities history.
This spring was the warmest in Twin Cities history.
Meteorological spring in the Twin Cities was the warmest on record -- though it was for the entire United States as well. Minnesota had its warmest March ever, and May was the 12th-straight month with an average temperature above the 30-year normal. [The assistant state climatologist] said he knows of no other such stretch on the books.

Richard Wiles, Climate Central's vice president for strategic communications, speculated to MPR about how continued warming could impact Minnesota.

"Potential mass extinctions, sea level rise, which doesn't affect Minnesota, but potential areas of chronic drought where we may not be able to grow food for people the way we do now," Wiles said. "The price of food could increase dramatically."

See also:
-- University of Minnesota geologist on climate change study: "It's a warning"

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