Winter in the south was provably hotter than in previous years.
While Florida, as well as the other southern, ocean-bordering United States, are known for being comparatively warm year-round, the ever-present threat of climate change has been gradually scaling up the heat in the last decade. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration keeps track of average seasonal temperatures to determine 10-year temperature averages, and according to their most recent batch of data for 1991 to 2020, Florida is demonstrably warmer than it was in the past.
According to the NOAA’s data, Tampa Bay, Florida showed an average high temperature of 90.9 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, up from 89.5 previously. The winter season was also warmer, clocking in at 73 even over 71.2 previously. Spring followed suit with a high of 83 even over 81.1 previously.
As temperatures rise, so too do the frequency of weather-based natural disasters, including, but not limited to, heavy storms, droughts, hurricanes, and floods. According to the NOAA’s data, the number of named storms occurring on average in a single year is up by 2 to 14 compared to the previous average.
For many climatologists and marine biologists, one of the greatest tragedies of global warming has been the destruction of multiple coral reef systems around the world. Rising ocean temperatures have caused a greater frequency of mass-bleaching events in reefs, something that many marine biologists have stressed cannot be undone once they reach a certain breaking point.
“It’s honestly a psychological problem for a lot of scientists,” Dr. Ryan McMinds, a researcher of coral reef ecology and evolution at the University of South Florida told the Tampa Bay Times. “There is really no doubt in our community that climate change is devastating these ecosystems. These last couple of years have been awful and massive amounts of coral have died. Scientists are struggling with this to the point it’s making it hard to do our work.”