Volcanoes and Climate in Illinois

When I give talks on climate and climate change, I often get questions about volcanoes and their impact on our climate. The Washington Post had a recent article on the subject, mentioning the famous eruption of Tambora in 1815, which in 1816 led to the year without a summer in the eastern US. It probably had impacts on Illinois but we had no widespread observations in place at the time.


The one I remember the best was Mount Pinatubo. The following summer after that eruption was exceptionally cool across the US and around the world.

Summer 1992 temperature departures from average for the lower 48 states. Shades of green indicate level of coolness. Click to enlarge.

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Keeling Curve – Measuring CO2 levels at Mauna Loa

Climate.gov just posted an interesting video on Charles David Keeling and his ground-breaking measurements of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The observatory was located on Mauna Loa, on top of the second highest peak in the Hawaiian Islands.

The idea behind the site was to keep it far removed from any nearby sources of CO2 resulting from human activity. Because of it’s location and longevity, it is our best measurement of the background CO2 levels in the lower atmosphere. Here is the link to the Mauna Loa Observatory records and trends.

Dr. Keeling received his undergraduate degree here at the University of Illinois in 1948 and his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Northwestern in 1954. There is a brief bio here.

April Weather – Warm, Wet Across Illinois and Midwest

Here are maps showing how April so far has been warmer and wetter than average across Illinois and the Midwest.

Temperature Departure from Average

Right now, most of the eastern two-thirds of the United States have experienced above-average temperatures for April (first map). The Midwest has been 1 to 6 degrees above-average, depending on the shade of orange (second map). Click on any map to enlarge.


Precipitation Departure

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NWS Outlook for the Growing Season in Illinois

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center has released their monthly and seasonal outlooks for the growing season.

In the near-future, the 6-10 and 8-14 day forecast indicate that colder-than-average conditions will prevail for the next two weeks. For precipitation, there is an increased chance of drier-than-average conditions in parts of northern Illinois for the next two weeks.

There is not a lot to report for Illinois at the medium range. We are in equal chances (EC) for above-, below-, and near-average temperature and precipitation for both May and the 3-month period of May-July.


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