December 29, 2015
Are Record Breaking Christmas Temperatures Proof of Global Warming?

It's not every year that New Yorkers get to experience Christmas in a t-shirt. This year, New Yorkers, as well as others on the United States east coast got to experience some of the warmest Christmas temperatures on record.

Are these record breaking Christmas temperatures proof of global warming or simply a fluke of nature? According to CNN, some meteorologists have referred to these unusually warm December temperature patterns as the "blowtorch."

National Geographic attributes the warmer than usual Christmas temperatures to El Nino and climate change. El Niño, which is the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean, tends to bring with it more moisture and warmer than usual air temperatures. Some experts state that the same El Niño air patterns that are bringing warm weather to the east coast are also responsible for the heavy snow in areas like Denver.


As of last week, December alone already brought over 2,600 record high temperatures along the east coast, and even more are expected before ringing in the New Year. Accuweather reported that some locations across the southeast and up to New England have broken their previous record temperatures by 10 degrees or more.

"One of the most impressive records on Christmas Eve occurred in Burlington, Vermont, when the city set their all-time December high temperature. New York City and Baltimore are some of the cities that could break records yet again on Sunday before a cold front washes away the warmth," said Brian Lada, an AccuWeather Meteorologist.

On Christmas Day, five locations around New York shattered previous Christmas day temperature records. It's reported that some people were even playing volleyball in Central Park; something that is completely unheard of for winter in New York.

According the New York Times, the unusually warm Christmas weather interfered with typical Christmas traditions, as New Yorkers traded snowmen and ice skating for ice cream and summer sports.

The only location across the northeast that reported a white Christmas was northern Maine with about an inch of snow. Yet, some are still skeptical to attribute the heat wave to global warming and climate change.

The blog Real Science stated their opposition to the global warming argument by saying, "Christmas Eve 1955 was much warmer. Three-fourths of the country was over 60 degrees, and Ashland Kansas, Geary Oklahoma and Encinal Texas were all over 90 degrees. Fort Lauderdale was 85 degrees. Last winter, the East Coast had record cold. That was ignored because it was 'less than 1% of the Earth.' But this week, the Eastern US defines the global climate."

Meanwhile, alternative news site Common Dreams explained that the correlation between El Niño, climate change and global warming often gets muddied, but that global warming is a factor in the record breaking December temperatures.

Erika Spanger-Siegfried senior analyst in the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists said, "2015 is the hottest year on record by a wide margin, topping 2014. 2014 became the hottest year even in the absence of El Niño. We're climbing the stairs, picking up pace, and taking some two at a time. So. Whatever we want to call December's freakishly warm weather, whatever we're tempted to call the punishing cold and snow that could follow, we ought not to leave out the global warming propping it all up."

Regardless of what you want to call it, warm weather during December is a truly bizarre phenomenon for most people on the United States east coast. Some have embraced it, while others longed for their white Christmas. At any rate, it's a Christmas to go down in the history books.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]