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Report: Climate Change Heating Up N.J. Faster Than Almost All Other States

New Jersey's average annual temperature is nearly at 2 degrees Celsius above the 1895 average, a crucial threshold, climate scientists say.
New Jersey's average annual temperature is nearly at 2 degrees Celsius above the 1895 average, a crucial threshold, climate scientists say. Photo Credit: Climate.gov

New Jersey's average annual temperature has risen by nearly 2 degrees Celsius since 1895, double the average for the lower 48 states, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

Of all U.S. states, Alaska's average temperature has risen by the most, followed by Rhode Island and New Jersey. Other states in the Northeast, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, are close behind.

A temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius is regarded as a critical climate warming threshold. Scientists fear that if average global temperatures rise by 2 degrees above the 1895 average, the consequences could be catastrophic.

The Post report underscores the fact that global heating is happening at different rates in different parts of the world, including the northeastern United States, where the climate is warming more rapidly than elsewhere.

In New Jersey, this has translated into much milder winters, with the average temperature between December and February now above freezing. The gradual wintertime warming has occurred over the last three decades.

As a result, bodies of water like Lake Hopatcong that historically froze solid to a depth of several feet in the winter now develop a much thinner layer of ice, while insects that would typically be killed off in freezing temperatures now survive the winter.

Climate change may be partly responsible for an algae bloom that closed much of the lake to swimmers earlier this summer.

Daniel Pauly, a marine scientist at the University of British Columbia, told the Post that hot spots like New Jersey are early warning sirens of a climate shift.

“Basically,” he said, “these hot spots are chunks of the future in the present.”

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