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STOCKTON UNIVERSITY

Lab 7: Climate Change


ENVL 4300
Megan Jones, Nicholas Freeman, Victoria Tagliaferro
Spring 2018
Dr. Tait Chirenje
Abstract:
The following paper looks at and compares the United States and Louisiana’s average annual

temperatures from the early 1900’s to current time. From 2000-2016, 80 percent of the top ten annual

temperatures are occurring in this century with 2016 being the highest recorded average annual

temperature to date at 66.69F. The United States annual average temperature in the early 1900’s was

51.6F and is currently 53.5F. Although the temperature is rising globally, we see in this paper that the

precipitation in North America is decreasing over time, starting at 32.8 inches and ending with 30.9

inches. Louisiana, however, has increased in temperature as well as precipitation which is likely caused

by its geographical region along the Gulf coast. This geographical region is prone to extreme weather like

hurricanes. With the global rising temperatures these storms will more than likely strengthen as well as

increase in numbers in and out of normal hurricane season. Brazil, in the southern hemisphere, is also

experiencing rising temperatures since the early 1900’s. The first recorded annual temperature for Brazil

was 76.8F and is currently 78.5F. This comparison with the United States solidifies the notion that both

the Northern hemisphere as well as the Southern hemisphere is experiencing an increase in annual

average temperature of 2F.


Table of Contents

Abstract........................................................................................................................................2

Introduction………………………………………………………………..………………….4-6

Methods……………………………………………………………………………………….6-9

Results and Discussion……………………………………………………..……………….9-18

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………….18-19

References…………………………………………………………………………………….20
Introduction:

Climate change is the average change in temperature over a long period of time. For instance,

climate change is the variance of temperature from decades to millions of years. The Earth’s climate has

changed throughout the beginning of time with periods of warming and cooling. There have been seven

cycles of glacial advance and retreat in the last 650,000 years. The last ice age occurred 7,000 years ago.

Although this heating and cooling is a repeating trend in earth’s history it is currently happening at a

faster rate than previously seen.

In the mid- 20th century humans started to industrialize causing greenhouse gases such as carbon

dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These greenhouse gases cause the Earth to warm at an exponential

rate. The most important gas causing global warming is carbon dioxide. We release carbon dioxide into

the atmosphere when burning fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas). The planet’s average surface

temperature has risen 2.0 F (1.1 C) since the late 19th century. (Union of Concerned Scientist) Most of

the warming trends have occurred in the last 35 years with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record

occurring since 2001. The year 2016 was the warmest on record for the entire planet.

There are, however, other factors that have a small impact on climate change. These factors are

called forcing mechanisms and are variations in solar radiation, variations in the Earth’s orbit, and

tectonic movements. Forcing mechanisms can be either internal, natural processes within the climate

system, or external which are either natural (i.e. changes in solar output, Earth’s orbit, volcanic eruptions)

or anthropogenic (i.e. increased emissions of greenhouse gases and dust) Some of the forcing mechanisms

can be abrupt but the full responses will not show effects for centuries or longer. (NASA)

The effects from human industrialization, however, have expedited the natural process of climate

change. Detailed measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been measured continuously

for more than 50 years. The data shows carbon dioxide levels have increased steadily every year.

Currently the Earth has 25 percent more carbon dioxide than in 1957. (Union of Concerned Scientist)

Carbon dioxide absorbs heat reflected from the Earth’s surface. At lower levels of carbon dioxide, the
heat would pass through the atmosphere into space. When carbon levels increase it creates a blanket in the

atmosphere collecting heat.

This blanket of heat causes many implications for the planet. Warming oceans and shrinking ice

sheets are some of the biggest causes of climate change that are affecting the Earth in a negative way. The

oceans have absorbed much of the increased heat, with the top 700 meters showing warming of 0.302 F

since 1969. (NASA) Warming oceans mean the species that inhabit the seas need to adapt or die. Algae

and other plankton cannot carry out photosynthesis in water that is too warm. This creates a collapse in

the food chain and many species will starve. The biggest impact a warmer ocean has on the planet is

changing of ocean currents. Once the currents change and no longer cycle cold and warm water across the

globe it will have huge impacts on the weather and seasons on Earth.

Another impact of warmer oceans is melting ice sheets. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets

have decreased in large amounts. Greenland lost 250 cubic kilometers (60 cubic miles) of ice per year

between 2002 and 2006. Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers of ice between 2002 and 2005. With

such large masses of ice melting into the ocean, sea levels are rising higher than human history has

recorded. Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate of sea level rise in the last two

decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century. (NASA)

All the forcing mechanism discussed have effects when combined together causing extreme

natural events (hurricanes, flooding). Extreme weather affects human society in almost always a negative

way. Even though we have adapted over the centuries to extreme weather it still cost humans their lives

and damage to property. Starting in 2003 researchers are putting more time and resources into whether or

not certain extreme weather events are factors of climate change. There is still much research to be done

in the correlation between extreme weather and global warming. It does have an effect but how much and

will it get worse are the questions to look at over the next 4 years.
Methods:

Part I:
Global
For the first part of this lab we downloaded global temperature trends from the National Centers
for Environmental Information>National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
website. Once on the webpage:

o Navigate to “Climate Monitoring”> “Climate at a Glance”> “Global” o In the


“Month” dropdown box select Annual
o For the Start Year select 1880>End Year 2018>Region/Continent select Global o
Under options check off “Display Trend” select per Decade o Under the “Surface”
dropdown box select Land and Ocean**
o Finally, select the “Plot” button and a graph of the trend of temperature anomalies
will appear
o The Snipping Tool (under Search>Windows>Snipping Tool) was then used to copy
the graph into a Microsoft Word document.
**This process was repeated twice more to generate Temperature Anomaly graphs for Land and
Ocean as separate entities. To do so, we repeated the entire process the same except for selecting
Land or Ocean under the “Surface” dropdown box, and then selecting “Plot”.

National
Next, we downloaded data from the NOAA website for the United States’ (national)
precipitation, average, minimum and maximum temperature from 1895 to 2018. Once on the
NOAA website in Internet Explorer:

o Navigate to “Climate Monitoring”> “Climate at a Glance”> “National”> “Time


Series” o Under the “Parameter” dropdown box, select Average Temperature** o
“Timescale” drop box> “Year-to-date” o “Start Year” select 1895, End Year select
2018
o Under “Options”, check off Display Trend>per Decade> “Plot” o When the graph
appears a small Microsoft Excel icon will appear underneath of it.
Double-clicking on the icon will re-navigate you to a new tab that displays a list of data.
o Right-click on the data, select “Export to Microsoft Excel” o When the Excel
window opens, save the file as an ExcelWorkbook93 file o File>open>navigate to
where the file is saved>select o A pop-up will warn you that the file may be corrupt,
select “Yes” to open the file o Text Import Wizard pop-up will appear: select
“Delimited”>Next o Under Delimiters select “Comma”>Next> “General”> Finish
o Once the data was delimited, the most significant data was organized into several
graphs

**This step was repeated three more times for the “Parameter” types Maximum Temperature,
Minimum Temperature, and Precipitation.

State & Sea Level Trends


Next, we selected Louisiana as our coastal U.S. state a research subject. We then downloaded
data from the NOAA for Louisiana. Once on the NOAA website in Internet Explorer:

o Navigate to “Climate Monitoring”> “Climate at a Glance”> “Statewide”> “Time Series”


o Under the “Parameter” dropdown box, select Average Temperature** o “Timescale”
drop box> “Year-to-date” o “Start Year” select 1895, End Year select 2018 o Under
“State” select Louisiana o Under “Options”, check off Display Trend>per Decade>
“Plot” o When the graph appears a small Microsoft Excel icon will appear underneath of
it.
Double-clicking on the icon will re-navigate you to a new tab that displays a list of data.
o Right-click on the data, select “Export to Microsoft Excel” o When the Excel window
opens, save the file as an ExcelWorkbook93 file o File>open>navigate to where the file
is saved>select o A pop-up will warn you that the file may be corrupt, select “Yes” to
open the file
o Text Import Wizard pop-up will appear: select “Delimited”>Next o Under Delimiters
select “Comma”>Next>“General”> Finish
o Once the data was delimited, the most significant data was organized into several graphs

**This step was repeated three more times for the “Parameter” types Maximum Temperature,
Minimum Temperature, and Precipitation.

For this portion of the lab we also research and acquired data for sea level trends in Louisiana.
This was done by:
o Navigating to the NOAA website>Tides & Currents>Home>Products>Sea Level Trends
o When the map appears, zoom to the state of Louisiana>use the Snipping Tool to get
image of the map>paste in Microsoft Word document.
o By clicking on the map, we were able to obtain Sea Level Trend information for three
different location in the state: Eugene Island, Grand Isle and New Canal.
City & Degree Days
In this portion of the lab we collected temperature and precipitation for New Orleans, Louisiana.
Once on the NOAA website in Internet Explorer:

o Navigate to “Climate Monitoring”> “Climate at a Glance”> “City”> “Time Series” o


Under the “Parameter” dropdown box, select Average Temperature** o “Timescale”
drop box> “Year-to-date” o “Start Year” select 1895, End Year select 2018 o Under
“State” select Louisiana o Under “City” select New Orleans
o Under “Options”, check off Display Trend>per Decade> “Plot” o When the graph
appears a small Microsoft Excel icon will appear underneath of it.
Double-clicking on the icon will re-navigate you to a new tab that displays a list of data.
o Right-click on the data, select “Export to Microsoft Excel” o When the Excel
window opens, save the file as an ExcelWorkbook93 file o File>open>navigate to where
the file is saved>select o A pop-up will warn you that the file may be corrupt, select
“Yes” to open the file o Text Import Wizard pop-up will appear: select
“Delimited”>Next o Under Delimiters select “Comma”>Next>“General”> Finish o
Once the data was delimited, the most significant data was organized into several graphs

**This step was repeated three more times for the “Parameter” types Maximum Temperature,
Minimum Temperature, and Precipitation.

o Continuing with the Average Temperature data, for each year’s average temperature
65◦F was subtracted. o When totals appeared to be positive these years were warming
years while years with negative totals were cooling years.
Part II:
For this portion of the lab we downloaded precipitation and temperature from the World Bank
website. Under “Select a Country or Territory”>Brazil, “Variable”> Temperature and Rainfall,
“Time Period”> 1901-2015. Select “Click to download historical data”, then “Download to
Excel”. Once in Excel, data was converted to inches and Fahrenheit and graphs generated to
display significant relevant data.
Results and Discussion:

Part I

Figure 1a) Land (NOAA, 2018)

Figure 1b) Ocean (NOAA, 2018


Figure 1c) Land & Ocean (NOAA, 2018)
Figure 2) United States Climate Graph 1895-2017 (NOAA, 2018) The results from Figure 1c.

shows that ocean temperatures have greatly fluctuated throughout time. It also shows that land temperature

has increased significantly from the early 20th century to the early 21st century. In comparison to the United

States, the country has also experienced a gradual, but significant, increase in average temperature

overtime. The average annual temperature data for the United States was calculated per-decade from 1895-

2017, and showed that the country’s average temperature increased by approximately 2◦F.

Table 1) Shows, in descending order, the highest recorded mean minimum and maximum temperatures,
and the years they occurred (NOAA, 2018).
Year Mean Maximum Year Mean Minimum Temperature
Temperature(F◦) (◦F)
2012 67.69 2016 43.13
1934 66.76 2012 42.88
2016 66.69 1998 42.82
2006 66.41 2017 42.74
2017 66.34 2015 42.71
1999 66.20 2006 42.08
2015 66.07 2005 41.78
1921 65.96 1986 41.74
1939 65.91 2001 41.74
1954 65.78 2007 41.67

In further detail, we examined the mean maximum and minimum annual temperatures for the
United States from 1895-2017. Our results for the mean maximum temperature (Table 1) show the ten
years of the highest recorded mean maximum and minimum temperatures. Five out of the top six mean
maximum temperatures have occurred in the 21st century, with the highest in 2012. For the mean
minimum temperatures, 80% of the top ten temperatures occurred during the 21st century, with the
highest recorded being 2 years ago in 2016.
Figure 3. United States Climate Graph (NOAA, 2018)

Figure 4. Louisiana Climate Graph 1900-1999 (NOAA, 2018)

The trend in precipitation for the United States for just the 20th century (Figure 3) examines the

averages per decade. The results show a significant decrease in precipitation from the first to the last

decade, starting at 32.8in and ending at 30.9in. From the 1950’s up until 2009, the country experiences

decreasing rainfall averages, with the lowest recorded from 2000-2009 at 26.4in.

In comparison to the coastal state of Louisiana (~66◦F), the average annual temperatures per-
decade for the United States (~51-53◦F) is significantly lower. Louisiana also experiences much greater
precipitation than the United States. This is likely due to the fact that various different climates must be
calculated in the United States data (arctic, arid, tropical regions). In contrast, Louisiana is located
exclusively in the southern region of the country, where the climate may be classified as subtropical.

Figure 5) Shows three different locations in the state of Louisiana that record sea-level trends

Once the degree

day’s formula was applied

to our average temperature

data from 1948 through 2017 a trend became apparent over the decade and a half. Upon looking at this

data it becomes clear that there has not been a single year on record since 1948 where the temperature has

been on average 65 degrees or below when in actuality, every year has exceeded this average temperature

anywhere from two to eight degrees. Due to this data, it would make sense to call every year since 1948 a
warming year, since all had average temperatures above sixty-five degrees. Looking at the graph below, it

becomes clear that while varying in strength, this trend of warming years in New Orleans has been

constant from 1948 until 2017.

Table 2) displays hurricane data for Louisiana over the last 20 years.
Hurricane Number of Rainfall (in) Damage (gross Category
deaths(Louisiana) cost)
Katarina 2005 1,577 8-10 $135 Billion 5
Gustav 2008 7 6-12 $15 Billion 2
Isidore 2002 1 n/a n/a 3
Rita 2005 1 6-9 $15 Billion 5

During the last twenty years Louisiana has faced the landfall of fourteen hurricanes
including Katrina, Ike, Harvey, etc. Damage ranges anywhere from a couple million at the least
to 135 billion US dollars, in the case of hurricane Katrina. Structural damage to the state is
continuous from these storms due to most of the state, including major cities (i.e. New Orleans)
being at or below sea level. Below is a list of what are considered some of the worst hurricanes
to hit the state, all of which cause fatalities.
While through the NOAA site you can find reliable monthly/yearly data for the state of
Louisiana from over the last one hundred years, although, there are bits and pieces missing
throughout. As of now we have yet to find another source with the same extent of data.

The state of Louisiana has a plan titled “The Louisiana 2017 Coastal Master Plan” which
includes looking at flood protection, natural processes and local habitats, the historical
significance and the Working capability of these coastal areas and how they will need to be
changed. This plan is the third in an installment of plans beginning in 2008 that stress the
importance in protecting the coastal communities and ecosystems from the inevitable (and
already visible) effects of climate change in Louisiana. While unable to find the exact plan for
2017, some steps taken in prior plans include sand bag walls to attempt to buffer rising waters in
coastal towns, The Increase of species that do the same in the wetlands such as Spartina
grass and even diversion routes to try and redirect flood waters using channels. While obviously
all these prospective ideas had flaws, improvement over the years is what appears to be the
working objective.
Part III

Figure 6) Displays the average annual temperature per decade for 114 years for Brazil and the
United States (World Bank, 2018)

In Figure 6. the average annual temperature for Brazil and the United States was
compared by decade. Because climate data for Brazil past 2015 was not available from the
World Bank database, the years 2010-2015 were averaged for only a five-year time period. It is
very evident in that Brazil’s average temperature per decade is significantly larger than the
United States. Brazil’s highest recorded average temperature (decade) is 78.5◦F for 2010-2015,
and for the United States 53.5◦F 2010-2015. Both of these temperatures occur in the most
recent interval, proving that country-wide temperatures have increased from the beginning of
record-keeping. In Brazil 1901-1909 the average temperature was 76.8◦F, and in the United
States 51.6◦F. It is probable that the country-wide increases in temperature we are experiencing
over 114 years are due to Climate Change.
Figure 7) displays the average annual precipitation data for 114 years for Brazil and the United
States (World Bank, 2018)

The figure above compares the average annual precipitation (inches) for Brazil and the
United States per decade, over a 114 year time period. As with the temperature data, it is evident
that Brazil receives significantly greater rainfall than the U.S; over two-times as much average
rainfall in every decade. This difference in data is largely due to the equatorial differences
between the two countries. Brazil is located in much closer proximity to the equator than the
United States; the northern part of the country is located in the Amazon Basin with significant
areas comprised of rainforests. The pattern in precipitation of Brazil is generally consistent
throughout all of the decades. In the first decade, the mean precipitation was 67.6in and 67.9in
from 2010-2015. However, it is notable that 2010-2015 is only a five year interval, and in the
decade prior mean precipitation was 71.7 inches. The trend of precipitation differs greatly from
Brazil, as it decrease gradually from the beginning to the end of the 20th century (32.8 and 27.7
in), but then increases drastically to 30.9in from 2010-2015.
Figure 8) Displays the average annual temperature for Brazil, New Orleans, LA, USA, and the
United States from 1950-2015 (World Bank, 2018) (NOAA, 2018)

Figure 8 compares the average annual temperature data for 2 countries and 1 U.S. city:
Brazil, United States, and New Orleans, Louisiana. The data observed is from 1950 to 2015
because there was no climate data available for New Orleans before 1948. The trend in
temperature for Brazil and the United States are similar, both gradual increasing from 1950 to
2015. However, the trend for New Orleans is much different; temperature increases
significantly in the late 20th century then drastically decreases by nearly 5◦F from 2000-2009.
However, the average temperatures of New Orleans (~56-65◦F) are much more similar to
Brazil’s (76.5-78.5◦F) than the United States. Overall, from comparing the precipitation and
temperature data of Brazil to the United States, we may determine that Brazil has a generally

tropical climate, versus the United States’ temperate climate.


There are many important environmental factors to consider when comparing climate
data for different geographical locations. These factors will greatly influence the different
trends in precipitation and temperature when comparing two different countries, such as Brazil
and the United States. Some of these important factors include topography, geographical
location, and the Earth’s surface. For example, for this exercise we compared Brazil to the
United States. The climate data for the two countries varies greatly from each other because
Brazil is in the southern hemisphere located close to the equator. The United States is located in
the Northern Hemisphere, with a much larger coastal area, and wider variety of climates per
State (arctic, arid, tropical etc.).
Based on the Climate Action Tracker, Brazil is moving towards its goals of significantly lowered

emissions by 2025. With a target goal of 43%, this goal of dropping 37% in this twenty year time seems

like a stretch but it is feasible especially considering the dramatic decrease in emissions contributed to the

slowing of the Amazon deforestation. As of 2015 Brazil was ranked eleventh on the top emissions list by

the Union of Concerned Sciences (UCS), produced 450.79 million metric tons of CO2 from fuel

combustion alone.

Conclusion
The United States has been collecting data in most areas since the early 1900’s. With this long term data

analysis, it can be shown that the Earth’s temperature is rising. The global temperature is not just rising

gradually in an equilibrium over time, it is rising significantly during the 21st century. The 21st century is

the era where human industrialization is at its peak. 80 percent of the top ten temperatures are occurring

in this century and the highest temperature on record for now is 2016.

Although the temperature is rising globally the data shows that annual precipitation is decreasing

in North America. The lowest recorded precipitation is currently between 200-2009 with 26.4in. The state

of Louisiana mentioned in the paper above has a higher annual temperature as well as precipitation per

decade then North America. The factors of geographical location have been examined to understand why.

Louisiana is a coastal state bordering the Gulf of Mexico. This area is prone to hurricanes coming up the

Gulf from Southern Africa.

Eighteen hurricanes have stuck land in Louisiana in the last 20 years. Cost of damages varies

from a few million to $132 billion in losses. The largest hurricane with the most damage to hit New
Orleans and the surrounding area was Hurricane Katrina costing the state and federal government billions

of dollars. With global warming affecting hurricane seasons and potentially making these storms more

extreme it is of the utmost importance to set plans to protect the area and the people who inhabit the coast.

Samples were taken over 114 years for global average annual temperatures. Brazil and the United

States were compared in annual temperatures. Both countries, although geographically in different

hemispheres have risen in temperature over recorded time. This increase in global temperature can be

deduced to be a product of climate change.


References
Climates to Travel: World Climate Guide (2018). Retrieved April 08, 2018 from

https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/brazil

Climate change evidence: How do we know? (2018, April 04). Retrieved April 10, 2018, from
https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

Global Warming Science. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.ucsusa.org/our-
work/globalwarming/science-and-impacts/global-warming-science#.WswmOJM-egA

Read "Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change" at NAP.edu. (n.d.). Retrieved
April 10, 2018, from https://www.nap.edu/read/21852/chapter/1#x

Climate at a Glance- Global, National, State, City. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2018, from
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/global/time-series

Climate Change Knowledge Portal (CCKP) - Brazil. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2018, from
http://sdwebx.worldbank.org/climateportal/

n/a. “Each Country's Share of CO2 Emissions.” Union of Concerned Scientists, 20 Nov. 2017,
www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html#.Wszgeojwbcu.

The Road from Paris: Brazils Progress toward its Climate Pledge. Retrieved April 08, 2018 from
https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/paris-climate-agreement-progress-2017-brazil-ib.pdf