Nights Are Warming Faster Than Days. Here’s Why That’s Dangerous.

Nationwide, summer evening temperatures have risen at nearly twice the rate of daytime temperatures, putting older people, the sick, and young children at greater risk during heatwaves.

Comments: 49

  1. Meanwhile, per capita CO2 emissions in the United States have dropped to the levels of the late 1990's.

    The culprits in increased CO2 are China, India, Indonesia and the entire continent of Africa, to name a few.

    Why? Because they want all the good stuff (cars, AC, reliable electricity, refrigerators) that we have. And there is nothing we can do to discourage their governments from providing the good stuff.

  2. An age to become increasingly philosophical to mitigate the inevitable.

  3. Wouldn't warm winter nights be beneficial in places like International Falls, MN? 33 % of the earth surface is seasonally frozen and 12 % is frozen year round, what about the effect there? Climate change research is all doom and gloom, do the funding sources require dire conclusions and scary headlines! Maybe the seniors will start to move to colder states for retirement instead of moving to Florida or Arizona. Better start buying real estate in Canadian Taiga before the crowds reach there.

  4. @ b fagan To whom are you replying? Please use the @ sign with name.

  5. A global culture now promotes individual wealth accumulation as a life goal - in place of the alternative, the goal of improving the health (physical and spiritual) of our human community and its extended family of life.
    Naturally the culture of individual wealth accumulation produces the perspective held by Raul: How can I use any observation, re properties of the physical and biological world, for the purpose of exploitation?
    "Better start buying real estate"
    This perspective renders the individual who holds it

  6. @LarryL: bfagan's comments are well informed and to the point. Sadly, he often poses them as responses so they don't get as many readers as I wish they did. He's one of the best.

    Demanding that the NYTimes or your fellow commenters do something you wish them would is a dead end. This is not a conversation, much as it might be useful if it were.

    It would be better to make your own points clear and unequivocal than to get into comment administration. We are guests at this board.

  7. The "heat island" effect is dramatic in Southern California. It used to be that fog would form and linger in large areas of open land near the coast and often linger most of the day all summer long. Now that open land is essentially gone, and we get hotter weather year round. Land needs to breathe.

  8. I've been talking about night time temperatures for years now. I clearly recall that we used to need sweaters at night at times in the summer, especially on the beach. Air conditioning was also used more rarely but now it seems we need it all summer. It's depressing and worrying and when you can well remember it being so different and so normal not that long ago, it feels like we are strangers in a strange, hot, and scary land. It would help some to do away with our pointless daylight saving time so the sun would set one hour earlier.

  9. @ CJ CT - CJ, I would appreciate it if you would tell me and preferably readers of the comments how you heat and cool your home. I make this request in connection with my comment here (sent to me as a Times Pick but perhaps not since the Times Pick system has problems).

    My comment ends by focusing on heat pumps, a technology that the Times said in a 1955 article, would soon sweep New England. That never happened and the Times never again had articles about heat pumps. Reason? Don't ask me.

    Here a heat-pump fact or "fact" to be checked.

    A family member of mine visited The Kellogg Nature Center many decades ago and told me, decades later when I became interested in Ground-Source Geothermal Heat-Pump Technology (GSG) that the Center had such a system in a pioneering effort. I just looked at the Centers webpage and see nothing about and cannot ask them directly since it is only 5:37 AM in Derby. Do you know anything about that?

    I write this as the temperature rises here in Sweden. If I decide to write a lot this afternoon and it gets too warm I can press a button that will set a silent air-air heat pump in motion, cooling within seconds. The electricity is entirely from renewable sources.

    Back to my question to you.
    Citizen US SE

  10. Nights are getting warmer. However, it's nice to see idiots like our elected leaders fighting over border walls. Humanity is doomed.

  11. Fake news! Based on data.

  12. The two bar graphs are interesting. The daytime graph seems to show a cyclic component contributing to modern warming with a period of around 60 years, which is suggestively similar to the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. The nighttime graph could be interpreted as the influence of population growth and urbanization superimposed on AGW. Without knowing exactly what datasets are involved it's hard to say.

  13. There aren't enough years to deflect the data based on imagining 60 year cycles.

  14. So we are all good? Nothing to see here? Keep movin' on?

  15. Stevenz, every article summarizing something for a newspaper doesn't have to provide all the data it summarizes, too. But the chart says the data is from NOAA.
    Here you go. Frank and you can grab all station data for the United States, and for each station, grab top 10% of daily lows and top 10% of daily highs.
    Here's their description of Local Climate Data

    But all temperature datasets are going to tell you pretty much the same things:
    1 - overall trends are up globally
    2 - warming rate is fastest in the far north latitudes as predicted in the late 1960s

    But Frank, why would you guess one cause for the daytime trend, and a completely different cause for the nighttime? By the way, Alaska is warming faster than the rest of the USA - are you suggesting Alaska is too urbanized?

  16. when i became crippled 31 years ago i also lost my talent for thriving in hot weather. a noted biofeedback doctor looked at me in disbelief one day when i arrived at my appointment - he said i never should have been out, and that i have so much nerve damage that i'd become a human barometer. add that little hurricane now well offshore up here...pressure changes, temp variances of more than 10-15 degrees. i thought i was being a wuss if i didn't complete my lists........get used to doing things when you can, people, and not when you want to.

  17. The models have been predicting this exact thing for a long time.

  18. Deadly consequences of increasing temperatures are usually reported with respect to communities of solely human animals ("people"); whereas effects upon non-human animal communities ("animals") are generally restricted to the Science section.
    As our biosphere declines in health and diversity, we should expand our perspective beyond anthropocentrism - and fast.

  19. I find the meaning of the charts labeled "Extremely warm nighttime lows" and "Extremely warm daytime highs" to be extremely confusing. Data that varies as randomly as this data does is rarely useful in understanding what is going on.

  20. "extremely confusing" only if you willfully want to say so. "Extremely warm nighttime lows" and "Extremely warm daytime highs" are really, really, really easily understandable.

  21. Weather has a randomness as part of what it does. That's why statistics and trend lines are useful to show that like they say here, minimum temperatures in summer are increasing faster than maximum temperatures.

    Here's a link to NOAA's "Climate at a Glance" tool. If you make the following settings in it, you can see that summer (June/July/August) minimum temperatures (typically nighttime) in the lower 48 states are increasing faster than maximum temperatures (typically daytime) over the same timeframes.

    That link should pop up showing the national minimum temperatures for the three-month stretch ending in August. (If not, select "Minimum", "3-month", "August" and click "Plot".) You'll see what's still wiggly, but press on.
    Click "Parameter", and select "Maximum Temperature" and click the "Plot" button, to see the highs for summers.

    Still wiggly, but there's a "Display Trend" checkbox on the right. Check that, hit Plot again. Since 1895, minimums have been rising at +0.14°F per decade. Maximums have been rising at +0.07°F.

    Now, change the start of the trend to 1950, and plot again for maximum and minimum. Since 1950, minimums have been rising at +0.32°F and maximums have been rising at +0.15°F per decade.

    Both are increasing, both are increasing faster since global industrialization after WWII really kicked emissions into high gear, but the lows are rising faster.

  22. I take it that climate change deniers and skeptics don't live near anyplace where the "heat island effect" can be felt. Would that be a safe assumption?

    They just run their air conditioners as usual (when they're not standing in the shade at the golf course), and bemoan that Scott Pruitt was mistreated by the media...

  23. Isn't this pattern what one would expect from urban heat island bias in the record? Are the stated numbers adjusted for urbanization of station location over the past century?

  24. No, it isn't what you would expect.

    And yes, the temperature data is corrected for urbanization, changes in instrumentation, etc.

  25. Sure would be nice if information like this resulted in more than just hand wringing and shrugs.

  26. It's too much to process. There is an essential collective cognitive dissonance around all of this. We understand that it's all really, really, really bad, and worse than we thought, and yet we still want to carry on lives in an alternate reality where having kids and buying SUVs and doing the stuff that every societal and cultural input asks and require of us is still really true and OK. As if none of this horrifying, nasty stuff has anything to do with us. As if we are just going to insist that this stuff really isn't what it is.

  27. For those who eagerly look forward to fresh, locally grown, summer tomatoes warm nights mean the tomato plants won't set fruit. They need nights under 70. Our fresh tomato season in Texas, sadly, is already over.

  28. Our earth's natural air conditioner, the sea ice at the arctic circle, has melted away. The polar, white ice cap deflected the sun's rays. Now it is being absorbed directly into the darker seas. The future is not what it used to be. Not only more crowded but much, much hotter, everywhere.

  29. This is not a surprise. When the sun beats down (near daytime highs) heat is carried up by rising columns of air. Greenhouse gases have little effect on this, so we aren't getting more record highs. At night, when there are lows, heat is carried up by radiation, so increasing greenhouse gases make lows warmer. This was shown quantitatively in a recent paper by J. Finkel in the International Journal of Climatology.

    But this is not harmful. People are affected by the highest, most stressful, temperatures. Our bodies don't retain daytime heat until night (though it may feel that way, psychologically, and our buildings do cool off at night). We maintain temperature homeostasis minute by minute.

  30. So often the missing component of any discussion about continuing and unabated global warming is continually increasing human populations. And more people in what are said to be undeveloped parts of the world wanting the items which require high amounts of energy which we have come to associate with good, Western world style of living.

    Human populations which surpassed 7 billion of us only a few years ago is now estimated with projections to be in the 10-11 billion range by the end of the century, possibly sooner.

    I read an article in the past year which, after the math was done, was that for each woman of child bearing age to limit herself to no more than two children, and preferably to one child, will over the long term have the most significant and marked effect on our planet and its livability.

    It should not be ignored that other species suffer as much or more than we do, many either reaching the point of extinction due to the expansion of human habitat, especially in those areas where fertility rates are persistently high, hunting and sheer ignorance.

    Here in the Puget Sound area with an anticipated 7 fold increase in shipping of fossil fuels coming by way of our waters, one of our beloved species, killer whales, are sadly calving fewer offspring each year, and may well become extinct, a possibility which likely seemed impossible 100 years ago.

  31. @Tim and my reply to Tim - Tim, my reply to you and also a comment at this article composed shortly after I wrote my reply to you were both accepted shortly after. The comment became a Times Pick also.

    You might want to take a look since behind all my comments on this subject is the New York Times continuing failure to provide even on article on renewable energy technologies standard in the Nordic countries.

    If Seattle WA used those technologies to the fullest, then perhaps you would not be needing to point out the 7-fold increase.

    But to go further with the 7-fold increase, we need to know where those fossil fuels are headed. Sweden imports 40% of its oil from Russia, sounds bad, but half of that is refined in Sweden and then leaves Sweden. Complicated subjects, yes. But nothing compared with population, as you know. Every "advanced" country that takes the birth rate below replacement then faces a whole new set of problems - see Japan.
    Larry L.

  32. Hello Larry, thank you for your replies to my post. Due to limited time this morning, I am including a paragraph from the article for your perusal as well as the link.

    Congratulations on your Times Pick!

    'The orcas are also facing a new threat. The recent agreement between the Canadian government and Kinder Morgan to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline would multiply oil tanker traffic through the orcas’ habitat by seven times, according to some estimates, and expose them to excessive noise and potential spills. Construction is set to begin in August, despite opposition from Governor Inslee and many environmentalists.'

  33. This is an excellent first take on a single kind of observation that must set in motion analysis of the implications, something the article does very well.

    I spent 21 days up on Mount Philo (State Park), Charlotte VT, just south of Burlington leaving there on 21 June. Back in Sweden where I listen to Vermont Public Radio's many streams off and on through the Swedish night I heard that report on Burlington VT highest nightly low ever, and it set me thinking.

    I focus on your excellent presentation of what we can call the "air conditioner" problem. Night-time temperatures above x mean greater demand for air cooling during the night. As you note, if the cooling is done by conventional air conditioners running on electricity generated by fossil fuels, then the greenhouse gas problem enters into the picture, the "equation".

    But if the cooling is done by, for example, an air-air or air-water heat pump running on non-fossil fuel electricity then “no problem”, so to speak. (I write this from a home with such a system, common here)

    Yes, I know that a one-off in Burlington has no climate-change consequence, but if this comment could get a few Vermonters to finally realize that they could start a make-Vermont-Sweden movement by switching from natural gas to heat pumps, who knows where this might lead.

    Bernie Sanders, my make America Sweden hero, talked at a heat-pump day in Randolph Center, VT, when I was there.

    Listen to Bernie!
    Citizen US SE

  34. Thank you. For people who don't want to believe things are changing, it is one of the many ways the change may be observed. This is not your mother and father's climate.

    The cumulative pace of change is relentless. People argue that there are ups and downs in the pattern, but anyone paying attention doesn't need a weatherperson to tell them that overall change is growing. These nighttime temperatures reflect a disturbing disappearance of cooling balance when it's not.

    Due to other changes from a melting Arctic (which have reduced the "Atlantic Meridional Overturning Cirulation (AMOC) - roughly equated to the Gulf Stream which keeps us warmer) the one cool patch on earth is in the north Atlantic, so we in the most populated part of the eastern United States and northwestern Europe are not heating as fast as the rest of the planet.

    Here's one of many graphics with a simple text that anyone can understand:

    "Global warming isn't a smooth process, and there are fluctuations from year to year due to internal variability (e.g., changes in the sun's intensity, volcanic eruptions, or shifts in the amount of heat stored in deeper layers of the ocean). But as we keep adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and keep trapping extra heat on Earth, that effect eventually dominates, pushing overall temperatures higher and higher. The spiral moves outward."

  35. @ Susan Anderson - Fascinating graphic from Finland so I looked at the Sweden point and adjacent points as the graph took us up to 2016. Pretty dramatic. To make matters worse, as a Swedish journalist pointed out a couple of days ago, the extremes popping up all over are matters of great concern. Swedish dairy and cattle producers are now faced with making a decision to slaughter their animals since we are experiencing a drought that has drastically reduced or almost eliminated growth of the plants these animals need to be fed every day.

    Unfortunately, as you and I know, nobody who has responsibility for US energy systems or risk analysis - if there is such a person - of the future costs of climate change looks at any presentations like this one. Thanks to you, we get to see them, but the only power we have is to vote in 2018 and again in 2020.

    I wonder seriously if the Democratic Party has a group working on an analysis of the potential for greenhouse-gas emission reduction by the USA, state by state.

    Larry L. writing as I note in submitted replies to several from a house on an island in Sweden with a perfectly functioning air-air heat pump that is silently cooling this room. The electricity running it is from 100% renewable sources. I am running it just to test the system and to give me a chance to point to Bernie Sanders' appearance at a Heat Pump Forum in Randolph Center VT when I was in VT in June. Not an event you can read about here in the Times.

  36. Blame the GOP, constant deniers of global warming, who even now are busy getting rid of Obama's insufficient regulations. They are pro-big business to the point of peril. Do they not have children? Do they think money might insulate them? Do they think Exxon will suddenly swivel and find a solution to save us? Whatever they once were, they are now a party that will help put us all out of business.

  37. Yet ANOTHER problem (global warming) we know about, but will refuse to do much about.

    Politics as usual will intrude.

    Could we be any dumber?

  38. What do the rich care? With their personal and corporate tax cuts, they can afford just to run even more more air conditioning in their homes, offices, limos and private jets. Their GOP lackeys are already working night and day to take away healthcare from those who cannot afford it, condemning thousands annually to sicken and die. So global warming will carry off more. Their lives are worthless anyway -- worth less than the lives of the rich.

  39. This article seems to cover all the bases right down to the "blacks and hispanics most affected." A few days ago the NYT found that blacks and hispanics in Miami suffer the most from climate change because they occupy the highest land least likely to flood (vs. the wealthy beach areas). Why is it suffering to occupy the best land? Because wealthy investors offer you lots of money for your property!! RACISM pure and simple. And BTW cold kills 17 times as many people worldwide as heat:

  40. Another misleading article(in a series). What and where is the data behind those graphs? What does extremely warm mean? When was the last time it was 105 F in San Francisco? Go to the NOAA data site and look at the data for large cities... like Phoenix... it is very clear that this differential (if real and not an artifact of measurement issues) is due to urbanization.

    This type of reporting convinces no one, it just feeds the alarmists desire for apocalyptic climate scenarios.

  41. Ralphie's usual namecalling and misreprentation to the fore. I hope you will follow his advice and look at all the data, not just the little bits here and there that support his false narrative.

    And no, it is not convincing to those with open eyes and minds, despite his assertions. He is very clever at misdirection, but unless you live in a sealed room the news and evidence are about our very real planet, not about denying reality to serve political fakery.

  42. Oh Susan, they haven't posted my more detailed comment yet. But as you see, all I asked for was a definition of what extremely warm means.... and since the author used San Fran as an example -- I merely asked when was the last time it was 105 F in SF?

    Further -- if you took the time to look at the data you'd see there isn't a warming trend for summer max temps (day time) as the following graph from the NOAA shows.

    Now, if you look at mins -- there is a trend up -- driven primarily by urban areas. Check out Phoenix as an example.

    Many areas like Georgia, Bama, show no trend up in min temps during the summer

    I don't cherry pick data despite your incessant assertions. I'm using the NOAA data for temps and Berkeley Earth for distribution of weather stations.

    And did you notice that even though the headlines say that nights warming faster than days is dangerous -- they never really explain why. If you live in a place that requires AC --- like Houston -- and you don't have it -- you're in trouble. If you live in a place that normally doesn't req AC -- a heat wave might annoy but our forebears survived in places where that were sometimes hot as heck all day then hot at night and they survived.

    And I didn't name call. This is just an unconvincing poorly written article. It seems ideology trumps journalism at the times.

  43. Ralphie again, always willing to pretend nothing's going on.
    Go to the NOAA data site and look at the regional data for the US - specifically look at Northern Rockies and Great Plains - the emptiest part of the lower 48.
    Warming trends going on despite Ralphie's false equations.

    Yes, Ralphie, cities warm while the rest of the planet warms. Yes, Ralphie, cities warm more than their less-paved surroundings. That's not a surprise, but you desperately hope people will think "It's just cities".
    As I've pointed out to you dozens of times, the fastest warming areas of the planet are the high latitudes around the Arctic, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Show us a link of the planet at night and let us see the bright lights of urbanization for those areas.

    Explain, too, the melting of glaciers worldwide. Glaciers are probably one of the places where Starbucks is not opening new branches.

  44. Yes, nights are warming faster. And yes, heat stroke kills many many people. But to say this is dangerous is to vastly underestimate the ability of homo sapiens to adjust. When temperatures get warmer we have air conditioners --
    look at Florida which, weatherwise, is totally inhospitable -- and we are nomadic and if one place is uncomfortable to us we move elsewhere. I like the science here but I dislike the apocalyptic tone.

  45. Actually air conditioners are increasing the problem. Manipulating the climate to fix that the climate has been manipulated leads to more of the same.

    The last time CO2 was at this level, sea level got to 210 feet higher. Here are a couple of good resources so you can stop thinking making the problem worse solves it:

    "The Last Time the Globe Warmed" (10 minutes, short enough to get the picture):

    and here's our own NYTimes, with a thought piece (fiction, but based on facts): "Our Climate Future Is Actually Our Climate Present: How do we live with the fact that the world we knew is going and, in some cases, already gone?"

    and one about the present from the same magazine issue:

    It helps to be rich, but that won't protect you forever.

  46. What is the definition of extremely warm? Do you think that might make the graph a little more clear?

    And when was the last time it was 105 F in San Fran?

    I may tend to be a glass half full kind of person, but here is the graph of max summer temps for the US since 1895.

    Anyone see a trend? I don't. I see year to year variation and longer term (decades) where the trend is either up or down, but there is no evidence here for any warming. You certainly wouldn't buy a stock based on this chart.

    Now, if you select min temps from the drop down you will see a trend. But what is that trend based on? Well, if you look at areas like Phoenix that have grown & urbanized rapidly you will see a dramatic increase in the difference between min and max temps. Which is consistent with the urban heat island effect.

    Note that this article says that the difference in warming trend is consistent with what climate models --- but makes no attempt to state why there would be a difference or what these models say. If it's only an urban heat island effect then are we supposed to set our hair on fire over this? Note that for less urbanized states like Alabama and Georgia, the min temps aren't getting warmer.

    This seems to be a story without much to substance.