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Warmer winter temperatures related to higher crime rates

Less winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States in recent decades, according to recent research suggesting that…

Less winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States in recent decades, according to recent research suggesting that crimes are related to the effect of temperature on daily activities.

A recent study published in GeoHealth ]a journal from the American Geophysical Union, finds that US crime rates are linked to warmer temperatures, and this relationship follows a seasonal pattern.

The findings support the theory that three important ingredients come together to lead to crime: a motivated criminal offense, an appropriate goal, and the absence of a guardian to prevent a violation of the law. During certain seasons, namely winter, mild weather conditions increase the likelihood of these three elements coming together, and that violent and property breaches will take place, according to the new study. Unexpectedly warmer summer temperatures were not linked to higher crime rates.

The new research removes existing theories about hot temperatures driving aggressive motivation and behavior, according to the author of the study. Instead, the new research suggests that crimes depend on how the climate changes people’s daily activities.

“We expected to find a more consistent relationship between temperature and crime, but we did not expect that relationship to change over the course of the year,” said Ryan Harp, senior author of the study and a doctoral student at the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic science at the University of Colorado Boulder. “It ended up being quite a big revelation for us.”

Understand how climate impacts crime rates can increase the limits of what researchers consider to be a climate and health connection, Harp said.

“In the end, it’s a health effect,” he said. “The relationship between climate, human interaction and crime we have uncovered is something that will affect people’s well-being.”

Regional Climate Affects Human Interaction

Previous studies have found a link between temperature and occurrence of crimes, but no one has looked at the relationship at regional level and only some have checked for underlying seasonal changes so that Researchers can identify the potential underlying mechanism.

In the new study, Harp and his co-authors conducted a systematic survey of the relationship between large-scale climate variability and regionally aggregated crime rates using a technology that allowed them to group detailed spatial data on seasonal and crime rates throughout the United States.

They compared crime and climate data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and the National Oceanic and Atmosp Heric Administration’s North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). The data included 1

6,000 cities across five defined US regions – northeast, southeast, south central, western and midwestern – from 1979 to 2016.

Their finding that violent crime is almost always more common when the temperature is warmer in the winter months was particularly remarkable in areas with the strongest winters, like the midwest and northeast, according to the researchers.

The new findings that show that rising temperatures are more important in winter than in the summer are interesting, says Marshall Burke, Assistant Professor of Earth Systems Science at Stanford University, who was not involved in the new study.

“The authors rightly suggest that this corresponds to warmer temperatures that change people’s patterns of activity, such as going beyond more than a physiological history of temperature and aggression,” he said.

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