About those quilts in the parish hall…

What do you remember about the weather in Minneapolis 40 years ago? Were the winters colder or warmer? Was there more snow or less snow? Were the summers cooler or warmer? Drier or wetter?

It can be hard to experience the weather on a cold winter day and still think that the climate is getting warmer. Climate change science has many variations to sort through. The impact of the changes is different around the world and sometimes it’s hard to see the changes in your local area. How can you discern weather from climate change?

Look at the quilts in the parish hall and note some of the color variation differences between them.

Both quilts show daily high and low temperatures from Jan 1 to Dec 31.  They are color coded with the purples and blues representing the cooler temps and the oranges and reds representing the warmer ones.  While temperature quilts may be a hot trend in the quilting world, these are unique in that each show the average daily high and low temperatures over a 5 year span.  By using average data over a set time frame, some of the bigger variations are smoothed out and the overall trend is a bit easier to see.

The quilt on the left represents 1978 to 1982 and the one on the right represents 2016 to 2020.   Thus, there is roughly a 40 year span from one to the other – or – a time frame that is easily within a person’s life span.

A few other details are included.  Note that some of the smaller squares that separate the high and low daily temps are not the same neutral color.  Some are a darker purple and some a dark red.   These represent some of the extremes that occurred.  The dark purple squares represent a day during those 5 years where the temperature dipped below -20.  The red ones represent the days where the temp peaked above 95.  How many of each type do you see in each quilt?

One last detail to note. On the sides of each quilts, the material is telling more of the story.  On the lower left side of each, there is a small white strip with the length representing the average snowpack on the ground during those years.  Just above that strip, a snowflake fabric length represents the average snowfall.  On the right side, the raindrop fabric length represents average total precipitation.

If there were to be another quilt for 2060, what do you think it would show?

Sarah Parker

If you want to learn more about both global and local climate changes, this is video is well worth the time:  Understanding the Earth’s Climate by Dr. Mark Seely, UMN dept of Soil Water and Climate.