Climate Challenge Week: Temperature extremes show warming of Detroit’s climate

Answering common questions about climate change each day of Earth Week

Climate Challenge Week: Temperature extremes show warming of Detroit's climate

Happy Earth Week and Earth Day!

Teaming up with NBC’s Climate Challenge week, Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross will answer the most-asked questions about climate change all week long.

On Thursday, we’re addressing how climate change has impacted Metro Detroit’s climate.

To understand climate change’s impact on Detroit’s specific climate, we’re looking at temperature extremes -- or the hottest and coldest temperatures experienced -- over the last few decades.

If Detroit’s climate had remained stable over the past 150 years, then the ratio of record warmth to record cold would be nearly 1-to-1. But that’s not the case.

In the 1990s, heat records outnumbered cold records by a 3-to-1 ratio. That in itself is unusual.

In the 2000s, the ratio of heat records to cold records soared to 6-to-1, which is astounding.

In the most recent decade, the 2010s, the ratio was at 3.5-to-1.

The statistics for the past three decades clearly show a strong warm forcing on Detroit’s climate.

Another surprising statistic: Six of Detroit’s top 15 all-time snowiest winters have occurred just since 2002. This is caused by climate change: More ocean water evaporates in a warmer world, and that extra atmosphere humidity gives big winter storms more moisture to produce more snow.

Watch the full report in the video above.

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About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.