Study: Fargo, Williston warmer in 2007 than historical average, part of broad larger trend
FARGO Average temperatures in Fargo and Williston, N.D., exceeded normal averages last year by about 2 degrees as part of a broad pattern of warmer U.S. temperatures attributed to global warming, according to a study released Thursday. Fargo's av...
Average temperatures in Fargo and Williston, N.D., exceeded normal averages last year by about 2 degrees as part of a broad pattern of warmer U.S. temperatures attributed to global warming, according to a study released Thursday.
Fargo's average temperature in 2007 was 1.9 degrees above a historical average for the past 30 years. Similar increases were observed in Williston, where the temperature was 2.1 degrees above the normal average, and 1.4 degrees higher in Bismarck, a report by Environment America shows.
Environment America examined the temperature record for 255 locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, regarded by meteorologists as the best data set, from 1971 to 2000.
More evidence of warming cited in the report: Between 2000 and 2007, Bismarck's average temperature was 2 degrees above the historical norm. Nationally during that period, the average was 0.5 degrees above normal in almost 90 percent of the weather stations.
Will Gosnold, a geophysicist at the University of North Dakota, said the results of the study are consistent with his research, which shows a rise in temperatures in North Dakota over the past 500 years.
"Over a long time period, you see a very steady progression of the way things are changing," Gosnold said. "It's a very real thing."
North Dakota has observed a rise in average temperatures since 1900 of about 4 degrees, he said. "This is huge."
Most of the temperature increase in North Dakota and worldwide has come in the last century or 120 years, said Gosnold, whose work is a collaboration with researchers around the world examining 800 locations.
The implication, he said, is clear: Human activity plays a role in rising temperatures around the world. The U.N.'s Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change last year concluded the evidence is "unequivocal" that human activities are responsible for most of the increase in global average temperatures, mostly from burning fossil fuels.
Adnan Akyuz, North Dakota's state climatologist, agreed that a long-term shift in warmer temperatures has occurred. Fargo, for instance, is 2.8 degrees warmer on average than it was 100 years ago.
But Akyuz said carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, is a tiny percent of the atmosphere, and there are so many variables and dynamics in the atmosphere that it is difficult to assign major blame to burning fossil fuels.
Mike Williams, Fargo city commissioner, said the shift to green energy sources presents opportunities. The city this year sold carbon credits for $600,000 that it earned from capturing and burning landfill methane.
At today's prices, the city stands to pocket $450,000 to $500,000 a year for its methane carbon credits, with another $130,000 for selling methane gas to industry and $290,000 for electricity. Fargo's captured methane is the equivalent of taking 28,000 cars off the road, Williams said.
"It's a nonpartisan issue," he said. "It's about science."
Chelsea Hummon, an organizer for Audubon Dakota in Fargo, which released the climate report in North Dakota, said the next president and Congress must act to address climate change and clean energy.
"We're definitely at a crossroads on energy," she said.
- Average temperature 1.9 degrees warmer than historical average in 2007.
- Experienced 20 days where the temperature hit at least 90 degrees in 2007, seven days more than the historical average.
- Average temperature was 1.4 percent warmer than historical average in 2007.
- The temperature was 2 degrees above the historical average between 2000 and 2007.
- 2.1 degrees above the normal historical average in 2007.
- Experienced average maximum temperatures 2.6 degrees above normal in 2007.
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