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Global Warming and Halloween

2012, the summer of the great US drought, has provided the growing conditions necessary for yet another record giant pumpkin: a 2009 pound whopper grown by Ron Wallace of Greene, RI, and exhibited at the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA, in late September.

Record pumpkin weights have been trending the same way as global temperatures over the last few years, the previous record (1818.5 pounds) being set by a Quebecker in 2011, and before that 1810.5 pounds by a Wisconsin individual in 2010, 1725 pounds by an Ohian in 2009, 1689 pounds by a Rhode Island example in 2007, 1502 pounds in 2006 by this year’s record grower Ron Wallace, 1469 pounds by a Pennsylvanian in 2005 and 1466 pounds by an Ontarian in 2004. The 2008 result is unknown, but it did not break the record of the previous year.

Below we plot the GISS global temperature anomalies (vs the 1951-1980 period) for the June-July-August season -- prime pumpkin-growing time -- in hundredths of a degree C, and pumpkin weights in pounds (we couldn’t be arsed converting them to metric). It can be seen that pumpkin weights have a smaller natural variability than global temperature but a slightly steeper trend. This would make them ideal for use as an IPCC temperature proxy (possibly even better than marmots) were it not for the fact that giant pumpkins are extremely rare in the fossil record, which limits their utility for paleoclimatic applications.
Pumpkins vs T

The emissions produced in transporting these pumpkins to the various county fairs, pumpkin shows and harvest festivals are unrecorded but must be substantial. This suggests that increased atmospheric CO2 might in fact be due to increasing pumpkin weights (but with a lag time very much shorter than 800 years) rather than vice versa.

Happy Halloween!
Climate zombies everywhere rejoice!