This column is provided as a public service by the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, in cooperation with the UAF research community. Ned Rozell is a science writer at the institute.
My memories of growing up in New York include a blanket of snow on the ground from about Thanksgiving until March. After I moved to Alaska a few decades ago, the snow Back East seemed less dependable on each winter visit, with rain often wiping it out. I thought maybe I had noticed a change, but memories are the most unreliable of data sets.
Last week, at a poster session at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting, which attracted about 15,000 scientists to San Francisco, a scientist chatted about “a region-wide winter warming trend” for New England. She had checked out regional weather records from 1965 to 2005 (which also happens to be the middle 40 years of my life).
“People who have lived in New England a long time always seem to tell you that it used to snow more and that it’s warmer now,” said Liz Burakowski of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New Hampshire at Durham. “Maybe this study shows that anecdotal evidence can sometimes be right,”