Mar 19, 2019

AP finds hot records falling twice as often as cold ones

United States
by
Seth Borenstein and Nicky Forster
,
AP
In this July 1, 2018 file photo, the sun sets behind the Statue of Liberty in New York as record high temperatures were recorded over the week in the U.S. and elsewhere. An AP data analysis of records from 1999-2019 shows that in weather stations across America, hot records are being set twice as often as cold ones. Photo: Andres Kudacki, AP
In this July 1, 2018 file photo, the sun sets behind the Statue of Liberty in New York as record high temperatures were recorded over the week in the U.S. and elsewhere. An AP data analysis of records from 1999-2019 shows that in weather stations across America, hot records are being set twice as often as cold ones. Photo: Andres Kudacki, AP

Over the past 20 years, Americans have been twice as likely to sweat through record-breaking heat rather than shiver through record-setting cold, a new Associated Press data analysis shows.

The AP looked at 424 weather stations throughout the Lower 48 states that had consistent temperature records since 1920 and counted how many times daily hot temperature records were tied or broken and how many daily cold records were set. In a stable climate, the numbers should be roughly equal.

Since 1999, the ratio has been two warm records set or broken for every cold one. In 16 of the last 20 years, there have been more daily high temperature records than low.

The AP shared the data analysis with several climate and data scientists, who all said the conclusion was correct, consistent with scientific peer-reviewed literature and showed a clear sign of human-caused climate change. They pointed out that trends over decades are more robust than over single years.