Map Shows How Freaky This Winter Really Is
ANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images
As the east coast of the U.S. braces for Nor'easter Nemo, what's the weather been like for other countries around the world? Here, a young girl is pictured with her dog and a pony as it snows near Warsaw, Poland on Feb. 7, 2013.
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
Afghan motor-cyclists ride in front of the war-damaged Darlaman Palace in Kabul on Feb. 7, 2013.
Jan Kroslak/SME/isifa/Getty Images
A snow plow clears a road on Feb. 7, 2013, in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.
MATTHIAS HIEKEL/AFP/Getty Images
Snow covers the pavement in front of the Semperoper (Semper Opera House) in Dresden, eastern Germany, on Feb. 7, 2013.
SAJJAD QAYYUM/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani Kashmiris walk through the snow in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir on Feb. 6, 2013.
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images
Commuters shelter from the snow under umbrellas whilst on their way to work in Tokyo on February 6, 2013.
ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images
Indonesian people wade through a flooded main street in Jakarta on Feb. 6, 2013.
ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images
Indonesian motorists maneuver through a flooded main street in Jakarta on Feb. 6, 2013.
Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A Kashmiri fisherman rows his boat during a sunny day at Dal Lake, on Feb. 6, 2013 in Srinagar, India.
PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Cars stand still on a road after snowfalls on Feb. 6, 2013 in Essen, western Germany.
Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A rickshaw puller trying to protect himself from showers with umbrella on Feb. 5, 2013 in Noida, India.
Weather-wise, this has been a rather strange and memorable winter. A North American polar vortex and frigid Mars-like temperatures will do that. As this new NASA Earth Observatory map beautifully illustrates, it has been an anomalous winter, indeed.
The map above shows land surface temperature anomalies in North America for Jan. 1 to 7, 2014. Data was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite.
The map depicts temperatures for this period compared to the 2001–2010 average for the same week. Areas with warmer than average temperatures are shown in red, near-normal temperatures are white, and areas that were cooler than the base period are shown in blue.
A second map shows temperature anomalies in Europe during the same period (grey represents areas where clouds blocked the satellite from collecting usable data.):
During roughly this same period, Australia suffered an intense heatwave that brought record-breaking temperatures, while in South America, Argentinians faced a two-week heatwave that boosted temperatures more than 15°C (27°F) above average in some areas, causing widespread power and water shortages.
"It's tempting to link individual weather events like this to broader discussions of climate change, and there certainly are some interesting theories out there, but the science really isn't mature enough at this point to make any meaningful connections," said atmospheric scientist Paul Newman in an EO release. "One-off events like this are neither evidence for or against climate change."
For sure, the cold spell in the United States only represented about 2 percent of the Earth's total climate. But still -- it's been a rather strange and severe winter (in the north) and summer (in the south).