Written by Robert Ferguson
Monday, 12 May 2008
Over the course of the past 113 years, the time since statewide records have been compiled by the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, the statewide annual average temperature history of West Virginia exhibits no statistically significant trend either towards cooling or warming. Instead, the temperature history of West Virginia is dominated by inter-annual and inter-decadal variability. For instance, the slight warming observed during the last 30 years was immediately preceded by a three decade-long cooling trend of equal magnitude from the early 1950s to the early 1980s. And prior to that, a half-century long warming trend occurred during the first half of the 20th century—long before the talk of human impacts to the climate began. When placed within the proper historical context, observed temperatures during recent years across West Virginia prove to be unremarkable and cannot and should not be used as evidence that “global warming” is pushing the temperature in West Virginia beyond its natural range of variability.
Full Report with Illustrations and Graphs
[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
West Virginia annual temperatures, 1895-2007
Annual mean temperatures
Figure 1. Annual statewide average temperature history for West Virginia, 1895-2007 (available from the National Climatic Data Center, http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/wv.html).
Seasonal temperatures: When the statewide average temperature history is examined for each of the four seasons, again, there is no evidence of any unusual trends taking place either over the short run or the long run. Once again, the record is dominated by year-to-year and decade-to-decade variations. In none of the four seasons do recent temperatures appear unusual when properly set against the background of the long-term observed temperature history. Simply put, there is no evidence of “global warming” in the temperature history of West Virginia.
West Virginia seasonal temperatures, 1895-2007
Seasonal mean temperatures
Figure 2. Seasonal statewide average temperature history of West Virginia (source: National Climatic Data Center, http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/wv.html).
Precipitation: An examination of the West Virginia’s statewide precipitation history from 1895-2007 shows more of the same—large year-to-year variability, but only a small degree of overall change. The inter-annual variability, ranging from a high of 60.35 inches in 2003 to a low of 25.74 inches in 1930, dominates the small (about 5% increase) long-term trend. There is no evidence that dry years are increasing in either frequency or intensity, in fact, there were many more dry years during the early part of the record than in the latter part.
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