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How much warmer than normal was your city in 2015?

Now there's a way to visualize exactly what a record warm year globally meant in your city

  • Feb 22, 2016
  • 593 words
  • 3 minutes
Map showing the degree to which global temperatures differed from historical averages in 2015. Red/orange areas were hotter than normal, blue areas cooler than normal. Scientists say 2015 was the hottest year globally since record-keeping began. (Source: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio/Goddard Space Flight Center)
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Last month, global temperature analysis confirmed what international climate scientists and observers feared: 2015 was the hottest year since record-keeping began in 1880, continuing a worrisome warming trend that has seen 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occur since 2001.

Now there’s a way to visualize exactly what that meant in your city.

Using data from U.S.-based weather forecasting company AccuWeather, The New York Times has published charts showing 2015’s daily highs and lows compared to 30-year averages for more than 3,000 cities around the world.

More than 90 per cent of the cities had a warmer-than-average year overall — some more than two degrees warmer than normal. We looked at several Canadian cities to see how the world’s hottest year played out at home.

Toronto, Ont. Despite a frigid February, a warmer than normal spring season, prolonged warm fall and abnormally mild December contributed to a year that was more than a degree warmer than average for Canada’s biggest city.

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2015 daily highs and lows compared to 30-year average for Toronto, Ont. (Source: Accuweather/The New York Times)

Calgary, Alta.Calgary, a city renowned for winter chinooks and freak summer snowfalls, is used to temperature extremes, but with few exceptions, 2015 was warmer than normal across the board.

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2015 daily highs and lows compared to 30-year average for Calgary, Alta. (Source: Accuweather/The New York Times)

Vancouver, B.C.An intensifying El Niño in the Pacific contributed to some bizarre weather patterns for the west coast in 2015, including a balmy winter and hot, dry summer that will be remembered as one of the province’s worst forest fire seasons.

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2015 daily highs and lows compared to 30-year average for Vancouver, B.C. (Source: Accuweather/The New York Times)

St. John’s, Nfld.St. John’s was one of the few cities charted by The Times that bucked the global trend in 2015, experiencing an abnormally cool year. The period from May through July was so dismal it spawned trending hashtags and prompted the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to issue a missing persons report for summer. The cooler than normal trend is linked to an anomalous “cold blob” in the North Atlantic, believed to be caused by the discharging of melted sea ice from Greenland.

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2015 daily highs and lows compared to 30-year average for St. John’s, Nfld. (Source: Accuweather/The New York Times)

The ArcticNumerous studies have pointed out that the Arctic is disproportionately affected by climate change. The 2015 temperature chart for Norman Wells, N.W.T. seems to bear that out, particularly in the first few months of the year.

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2015 daily highs and lows compared to 30-year average for Norman Wells, N.W.T. (Source: Accuweather/The New York Times)

It’s important to remember that weather and climate are different things, and that short-term or regional anomalies don’t cancel out long-term trends. However, scientists say it’s unlikely the globe would have experienced back-to-back record warm years in 2014 and 2015 if the climate were not warming.

View the 2015 temperature data for your city.


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