In recent years, climate scientists have noticed a growing imbalance in the ratio of warm temperature records to cold records in the U.S., with warm records being set more frequently.
But even with this trend, October 2016 stands out as being particularly unusual.
Last month, the lower 48 states recorded 7,025 warm temperature records (record daytime highs and record warm nighttime temperatures), but just 508 record cold temperatures (including record cold daytime temperatures and record lows).
That’s a greater than 10-to-1 ratio in favor of warm records.
This new data, released from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Nov. 8, speaks volumes about just how unusually warm October was.
The month was the third-warmest October on record, and the year-to-date is running as the country’s second-warmest year in 122 years of record-keeping.
So far this year, there have been 57,177 warm temperature records set or tied in the U.S. and just 11,912 cold temperature records.
Globally, 2016 is likely to be the warmest year on record, beating 2015 for the dubious title.
The longer term ratio of warm to cold records would be expected to average out to about 1-to-1 in the absence of a changing climate.
However, there are far more warm records set or tied now than cold records, and climate studies have tied this trend to human-caused global warming.
In other words, we better get used to it.