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2012 Hottest Year on Record for US

The last eight months have been the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States, and this has been the third-hottest summer since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the US National Climate Data Center.

During every one of the last 15 months, the temperatures have been above-average. That has never occurred before in all the 117 years of US record-keeping, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the data center.

2012’s winter, spring and summer have “all been among the top-five hottest for their respective seasons,” Crouch said, something else that is also unique in the U.S. record. “There has never been a warmer September-through-August period than in 2011-2012,” he added.

“We’re now, in terms of statistics, in unprecedented territory for how long this warm spell has continued in the contiguous U.S.”

These seemingly ‘freak’ heat waves are typical of what climate scientists have been warning would become more likely in a rapidly warmer world.

Alyson Kenward of the non-profit research and journalism organization Climate Central said, in a statement: “Extreme heat is closely tied to climate change, and this summer’s heat wave left a global warming signature in the data, particularly in the ratio of record high to record low temperatures.”

In a temperature stable world, record highs and record lows would balance out, with a ratio of one to one. During 2012, “25 states have had high to low temperature ratios of 10 to one or greater; 14 have had a ratio greater than 20 to one; and three have had greater than 40 to one ratios,” Climate Central said.

Ohio was the highest, with 49 record high temperatures to every record low.

There has also been a very severe drought accompanying the heat, almost 63 percent of the Lower 48 states are currently experiencing drought.

And perhaps more alarmingly, arctic sea ice has fallen to its record smallest ever observed size, and the melting season this year isn’t even done yet. The Arctic, sometimes called the world’s air conditioner, has a large impact on global temperatures and weather patterns.

“As of September 5, the ice on the Arctic Ocean was less than 1.54 million square miles (4 million square km), a 45 percent reduction compared to September conditions in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Source: Reuters
Image Credits: Cracked Earth via Shutterstock

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