Ask a Nordic skier, a snowboarder, or anyone who loves the snow, and they'll tell you right away: winter is getting shorter. So, you’re not alone if you’ve noticed a warmer winter with less snow where you live. Scientists have determined that winter is getting warmer, shorter, and less predictable. From historic blizzards to bare hills at ski resorts, winter might look very different in the future.
Winter Is Shrinking …
Since the 1950s, researchers have monitored daily average temperatures across the United States. Not only are seasonal weather cycles changing, but they're also getting more unpredictable. Just as some parts of the US have experienced record-breaking heatwaves in what are often considered spring and autumn, other locations have seen blizzards and substantial snowfall in April or even May.
… And Summer Is Getting Longer
Researchers divided up each year since 1952 based on the daily average temperature. They then defined the start of summer as the hottest 25% of temperatures. Winter was defined as the period within which 25% of the coldest temperatures we concentrated.
Between 1952 and 2011, the last year included in the study, winter was three days shorter, from 76 days to 73. Summer is now 17 days longer, totaling 95 days. Spring and autumn are shorter as well.
Why Is Winter Getting Shorter?
Shorter winters are caused by climate change. Over three centuries of greenhouse gas emissions—we started burning coal in the 1700s—have increased global average temperatures.
Since 1880, the Earth's surface temperature has risen by 0.14 Fahrenheit degrees per decade. Since 1981, the rate of increase has more than doubled to 0.32 degrees. The 9-year span between 2013 and 2021 is all within the top ten hottest years on record.
Related: Complete Guide to HVAC Energy Efficiency
How Climate Change and Winter Impact Your HVAC System
At home, shorter winters mean a decreased demand for heat. One model found that winter could be as short as two months by 2100, reducing the number of heating hours in American homes. While that sounds good for families dealing with increased heating bills, it has an expensive downside.
Longer summers could mean substantially increased energy bills to stay cool. It's not a terrible tradeoff for homeowners. Heating your home requires four times more energy than cooling it. To save money, it's worth looking at more energy-efficient cooling options, including air-source heat pumps.
What Short Winters Mean for the Environment
The negative effects of climate change are already impacting many parts of the US. In addition to more widespread wildfires, droughts, and severe weather, climate shifts will impact how—and where—we live.
Just a few of the long-term effects include:
- Rising water temperatures impacting fish and wildlife health
- Increased risk from mosquito-borne disease
- Longer and more severe allergy season
Save Winter and Save Money with Expert HVAC Maintenance
You can reduce your home's environmental impact by upgrading to more energy-efficient equipment like heat pumps when it's time to replace older heating and cooling systems. Keep your HVAC running smoothly with regular maintenance and work with your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning technicians to identify ways to save money and go green. Get started today; schedule an appointment or call (800) 893-3523.