Pasadena Feels the Heat at Center of Environmental Warming Study

Published : Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | 5:35 AM

Image from a report delivered by Dr. Paul Wennberg at the Engineering a Cooler Earth symposium at Caltech in December, 2017.

Pasadena is at the center of a new environmental study that illustrates planet Earth is getting warmer.

Research conducted by the Associated Press said the City of Roses has had 7,203 days between low-temperature records. That is more than all the rest of the 423 weather stations across the Lower 48 U.S. states represented in the study.

According to the study, in between the two cold record days, Pasadena set 145 heat records. That includes an all-time high of 113 degrees last year.

The Associated Press looked at weather stations across the contiguous continental states area of the U.S. that reported the most consistent temperature records since 1920. The organization counted how many times daily heat temperature records were either tied or broken, and how many daily cold records were set.

In a stable climate, the numbers should be roughly equal, the news organization’s report about the study indicated.

But the report said since 1999, the ratio has been two warm records set or broken for every cold one. In 16 of the last 20 years, there have been more daily high-temperature records than low.

The AP study said that nowhere “has that been more noticeable than … Pasadena, where the 7,203 days went by between cold records being broken. On Feb. 23, Pasadena set a low-temperature record, its first since June 5, 1999.”

Caltech atmospheric sciences professor Paul Wennberg. Image courtesy Caltech

“The temperatures across the United States and across the world, they’re warming,” said Paul Wennberg a Caltech atmospheric sciences professor. “And they’ve warmed a lot over the last century. But Pasadena is one where we have this combination of being in the southwest where the temperatures have warmed even more than nationally.

“It may be one of the only sites where there was not a record low in the last 20 years,” Wennberg said. “So that’s why they said Pasadena.”

“There’s no real mystery here,” Wennberg said. “We’ve been adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate.”

Wennburg characterized the resulting warming of the climate is “is sort of a no brainer.”

“It’s like saying if you added an extra blanket at night, do you expect it to get colder or warmer? There’s no huge mystery here. And any attempt to sort of obfuscate that basic argument should be discounted.

Deke Arndt, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate monitoring chief told the AP the Earth is indeed getting warmer.

“We are in a period of sustained and significant warming and — over the long run — will continue to explore and break the warm end of the spectrum much more than the cold end,” Arndt said.

Wennberg said the study suggests Pasadena is a record-setting example of a trend.

“Add extra insulation to the earth. Essentially, that’s what we’ve done,” Wennberg said. “It’s obvious. And anyone who wants to look at the data can go look at the data and you’ll see that the earth is warming.

“The essential thing is if you look at all sites across the United States, there have been two times as many record highs as record lows,” Wennberg said. “And that’s what you would anticipate if the temperatures are warming and the difference with Pasadena is it just happens to be the one place where we haven’t had a record low since 1999.”

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