Thinking about averages

By studying climate changes and also in daily life we like to have some expectations and to think about the same situation so as about the same results of it. While planning vacations, business trips and even by planning what to wear in the morning we may think of some weather patterns, which are usual for that season or month. The average temperature is more and more often seriously under the actual temperatures in many parts of the world, but in some places it’s quite disturbing. I’m talking about the Siberia and generally the whole colder mild climate and arctic climate in the northern hemisphere. Let’s look closer to some places.

In Helsinki, Finland, in February this year (2016), there wasn’t any day during this month with highest daily temperature lower than 4 degrees about average and the minimum daily temperature was just 3 times under the average.

In February 2015, in Astana, Kazakhstan, there were just 2 days under average daily maximum for the month.

In Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, in April average maximum daily temperature should be 0 degrees for the April 1st and 7 degrees for the April 30th. In April this year, the maximum daily temperature was 10 or more degrees 14 times, 3 times above 15 degrees, once 20 degrees.

These are just few examples what one can see almost every day, while studying temperature patterns in different countries. The temperature is generally high above the average and sometimes happens, or even sometimes not, great irruption of mass of cold atmospheric wave which lasts only for 2-3 days.

Even people are used to such hot weather. Walking on the street, one often hears “what a cold weather is today”, but many times it’s just as it should be in that particular month.

It can be positive, as a sign of people being able to adapt. Well, one can easily adapt when it’s not -40, but just -30 or -25 degrees Celsius. When it’s 40 and not 30 degrees, basically, it can be worse. But rising temperatures do cause additional emissions from the tundra, which is not as frozen as it would be during the historically average winters. Russia should be especially aware of the climate change and the pollution, which it emits, just because of it’s population, which still doesn’t have such high life expectancy as in Japan or Europe. One wouldn’t be surprised, if it would be at least partially caused by the pollution. The really annoying one example is Noril’sk, known for decades for it’s pollution caused by production of nickel. In 2015, it won internal Russian anti-price for the most polluted city of Russia. 2000 tons of poisonous substances were emitted. Combined with the climate change, one would better avoid such cities to live and think about what was done wrong and how to change it.

Another extreme for the average is the southern hemisphere, where for example in Ushuaia in December last year were just 8 days above average maximum temperature and 9 days in January 2016. One could complain, that it’s possible to find opposite records for this case and for the northern hemisphere as well, but they are just rare and in praxis difficult to find. The danger for the southern hemisphere is, that one can’t see actually no climate change and the air is quite clean as well, as the most emissions are present in the atmosphere in the global North. When there’s no urgent need for cutting emissions in South, these countries are not so interested and continue with cutting forests etc. like in Brazil.

Going back to averages, in the long run, one can’t overlook the impacts of the climate change. One just can’t see it now, today, as continuous changes are not seen as such a threat as extremes or even when extremes become normal, such as 20 degrees in Central Europe in February, for instance.

Another bad thing which happens in connection with averages is, that when one hear “reduce emissions so, that the temperature would rise just by 2 degrees”, one thinks, that these 2 degrees are just nothing. But somewhere it can be even 5 degrees and somewhere nothing at all. That’s one problem. Another problem here is, that in the Arctic every degree has a huge impact, we just can’t see it from our offices in our great modern cities.

Hence, more solid information for ordinary people is needed and doing it by showing numbers by the scientists would be the best way, as the numbers don’t lie.

Not being too comfortable and visit such places is a smart way to do as well, as one can get even closer view and even ask for daily problems connected with the rising temperature from the citizens.

So, would you think now, that the older generations are just complaining about everything new? Think about the averages they lived in, when they were young.


Martin Kimerling


2 thoughts on “Thinking about averages

  1. Very interesting post. Climate change is a serious issue for the world, even when the impacts of it are different in all regions. I like it how you described the situation in different countries.


  2. The topic of the article is undoubtely contributive because it is quite important to fully uncover the meaning of the “averages” in this perception. Even me, I am not always aware of the meaning of the seemingly small temperature change and I don´t think about the real changes in the regions with some extreme conditions.
    Especially the part about international declarations of the ambition to limit the temperature change to the maximum of 2 degrees is intresting realizing the true anticipated change in some parts of the world.

    Michal Bazovský


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