Just in case the abnormal weather events around the world didn't tip you off, the term "global warming" is actually a misnomer that doesn't really describe the effects of climate change. And if you are to believe a new oceanographic study, "climate change" may not adequately do the trick either. Hannes Baumann, one of the report's authors, prefers "global weirding," because the effects are so unpredictable and hard to understand.
In some areas (e.g. the South American Pacific coasts) the water has been getting colder over the last 30 years. In others (e.g. the North Pacific and North Atlantic) it’s getting warmer. On the East Coast, the temperature is rising at three times the global average--meaning that global numbers aren’t particularly relevant to New Yorkers or New Englanders.
Along the East Coast, ocean temperatures are rising fast, leading to concern about what that might mean for northeastern fisheries. "On the current warming trajectory," says Baumann, "many places on the southern New England coastlines may become unsuitable for lobsters in the next decade."
South of there, below Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, water temperatures are actually going down. Baumann believes this trend might be due to a weakening of the Gulf Stream, which normally brings warmer water from southern Florida up the coast.
With all of these differences, it makes more sense to focus on particular localities instead of talking about climate change as if it were a monolithic thing:
"Instead of the global average temperature increase over the past century, which frankly doesn’t sound too bad, it’s better to highlight the rapid succession of extremes that occur in different parts of the world."
(via Fast Co.Exist)
Photo: The Pacific Ocean coastline near Florence, OR. (via Surfrider)