Observed Climate Change and the Negligible Global Effect of Greenhouse-gas Emission Limits in the State of North Carolina

By | July 26, 2010

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[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]

There is no observational evidence of unusual long-term climate changes in North Carolina.

The observations we have detailed in this review illustrate that year-to-year and decade-to-decade variability plays a greater role in North Carolina’s climate than any long-term trends. Such short-term variability will continue dominate North Carolina’s climate into the future. At the century timescale, North Carolina’s climate shows no statically significant trend in statewide average annual temperature, statewide total annual precipitation, or in the frequency and/or severity of droughts—an indication that “global warming” is anything but “global” and also strong evidence that local and regional processes are more important than global ones in determining local climate and local climate variations and changes. The same is true for tropical cyclones impacting North Carolina and the United States—there is a great degree of annual and decadal variability that can be traced long into the past, but no 20th century trends in frequency, intensity, or damage. Global sea levels are indeed rising, but they are rising, and should continue to rise, at a pace that is not dissimilar to the pace of rise experienced and adapted to during the 20th century. And climate change is shown to have little, if any, detectable impacts on the overall health of North Carolina’s population. Instead, application of direct measures aimed at combating the negative impacts of heat waves and vector-borne diseases prove far and away to be the most efficient and effective methods at improving the public health.