The nonpartisan research and communications group analyzed 238 locations across the continental U.S. and found that 97 percent of them have seen an increase in average winter temperatures since 1970, and that, for 75 percent, winter is their fastest-warming season.
Winter temperatures across the country have risen approximately 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, compared to a 2.3-degree rise in summer temperatures. This past winter was the 17th warmest on record. "Whenever we get these events, we should always be thinking there's the possibility or likelihood that human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood of strange weather," Richard Seager, a climate researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, told CNN.
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And warming winters are not just impacting the U.S. — Antarctic ice levels have hit a new record low and are likely to continue "on a very steep downward trend," according to Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Higher-than-average temperatures are also affecting tourism, especially "snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing," Robert Wilson, a professor at Syracuse University, explained.
This winter season has been wrought with unusual weather patterns largely due to a phenomenon known as La Niña, which pushes more warm water toward Asia and tends to cause warmer winters. This is the third consecutive La Niña year.
"In coming decades," Wilson remarked, "winter — as most people understand it — will get shorter and warmer, with less snow and more rain."
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