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MYTH #47: It's freaking cold


Did you hear about the record cold snap? Where's the global warming now?


Even with climate change, it still gets cold sometimes. But hot days are happening more often.

Since 1950, hot days have become more common and cold days have become less common around the world. In the U.S., record-high temperatures are being set more than twice as often as record-cold temperatures. But the bottom line is this: “Less cold” doesn’t mean “never cold.” Cold days will happen less often as the world warms, but they won’t go away.

Additional info from Skeptical Science 

It's easy to confuse current weather events with long-term climate trends, and hard to understand the difference between weather and climate. It's a bit like being at the beach, trying to figure out if the tide is rising or falling just by watching individual waves roll in and out. The slow change of the tide is masked by the constant churning of the waves. 

In a similar way, the normal ups and downs of weather make it hard to see slow changes in climate. To find climate trends you need to look at how weather is changing over a longer time span. When we look at high and low temperature data from recent decades (Figure 1), we see that new record highs occur nearly twice as often as new record lows.

Figure 1: Ratio of record high to record low temperatures in the U.S., 1950-2009. © UCAR/Mike Shibao. 

New records for cold weather will continue to be set, but global warming's gradual influence will make them increasingly rare. 

Adapted from © John Cook and Skeptical Science