US seared during hottest year on record by far

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm •  Published: January 8, 2013
Advertisement
;

Several environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, took the opportunity to call on the Obama Administration to do more to fight climate change.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 also had the second-most weather extremes on record after hurricane-heavy 1998, based on a complex mathematical formula that includes temperature records, drought, downpours, and land-falling hurricanes.

Measured by the number of high-damage events, 2012 ranked second after 2011, with 11 different disasters that caused more than $1 billion in damage, including Superstorm Sandy and the drought, NOAA said.

The drought was the worst since the 1950s and slightly behind the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, meteorologists said. During a drought, the ground is so dry that there's not enough moisture in the soil to evaporate into the atmosphere to cause rainfall, which leads to hotter, drier air. This was fed in the U.S. by La Nina, which is linked to drought.

Scientists say even with global warming, natural and local weather changes mean that temperatures will go up and down over the years. But overall, temperatures are climbing. In the United States, the temperature trend has gone up 1.3 degrees over the last century, according to NOAA data. The last year the U.S. was cooler than the 20th-century average was 1997.

The last time the country had a record cold month was December 1983.

What has scientists so stunned is how far above other hot years 2012 was. Nearly all of the previous 117 years of temperature records were bunched between 51 and 54 degrees, while 2012 was well above 55.

"A picture is emerging of a world with more extreme heat," said Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M University climate scientist. "Not every year will be hot, but when heat waves do occur, the heat will be more extreme. People need to begin to prepare for that future."

___

Online:

National Climatic Data Center summary of US weather in 2012, http://1.usa.gov/UHhwpx

NCDC chart showing 2012 versus other years, http://1.usa.gov/13eHTrJ

___

Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears



Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    College of Charleston president orders second investigation of Doug Wojcik
  2. 2
    Joe Paterno's son Jay sues Penn State for 'improper termination'
  3. 3
    Former Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse dead at 64
  4. 4
    Oklahoma man gets consecutive 20-year terms for rapes of intellectually challenged classmates
  5. 5
    Angels won't cap former OU pitcher Garrett Richards' innings
+ show more