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Guest Thinkers

Hot April Showers Bring May (Arctic) Melting

The University of Alabama in Huntsville – in partnership with NASA and NOAA – has taken Earth’s temperature, and determined that (based on satellite data collected over the past 32 years) our planet had a bone-rattling fever this April. The school, in its Newswise announcement of the troubling news, lists more numbers than words – presumably because the numbers don’t need much help to tell the story.

According to John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at UA Huntsville (he’s also director of the school’s Earth System Science Center), the Arctic’s April was an average of 4.43 degrees F warmer than “seasonal norms” would suggest it should have been. The sweltering month wrapped up what was the Arctic’s hottest five-month period on the satellite’s record.

It wasn’t just the Arctic that felt the heat; around the world, April 2010 was the second hottest on the satellite’s record, falling into place right after April 1998. I felt it in New York City, where we had a couple of sticky days that felt like they belonged in mid-August. What about your home town? Did you feel the heat?