Climate Change and its toll on the Windy City

Chicago is known for many things, among them the inconsistent weather. However, the past couple of years have been unusual in terms of normal weather conditions in Chicago, especially during the winter months. As we have recently experienced, it was around 65 degrees this past December— a rare and concerning occurrence for the Chicago-land area. 

Meteorology professor and specialist Richard DiMiao, explains that Chicago’s new oddness of weather patterns is due to global warming.

“We [the globe] has warmed up about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 140 years,” said DiMiao. 

Since Chicago is located right by Lake Michigan the effects of climate change are ever more prevalent. 

“Water has a higher heat capacity, and since it is now warmer than usual, it no longer has the ability to cool down the normal way it does in the fall,” said DiMiao.

This explains the warm Chicago temperatures we experienced this past November and December and is what accounts for the temperatures Chicagoans have been accustomed to being a month or so behind than normal.

“We noticed in the month of December that we’re not getting as cold or as much snow anymore,” said DiMiao “Our Decembers are warmer, our January’s are colder but oddly enough, our February’s are actually colder.There has been a trend for us to see temperatures two to three degrees colder in the month of February than we were over the last 30 years but the overall long term trend has been to have less severe winters. The fact that our winters are not as cold is a direct link to the fact that the Earth is warmer.” 

There is clear scientific evidence of climate change affecting Chicago, and no evidence of the weather patterns going back to normal anytime soon. In 2011, climate change experts cautioned that Chicago’s future includes weather similar to that of the Deep South. This appears to be true as we are already experiencing the wetter, steamier, and warmer weather. For some, this is wonderful news, for others, devastating. 

 

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