Seems like the Olympics weren’t the only ones breaking records last month.
Government scientists say July was the hottest month EVER RECORDED in the lower 48 states, breaking a record set during the Dust Bowl era in the 1930s. The United States this year keeps setting records for weather extremes that include drought, heavy rainfall, unusual temperatures and storms.
The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees. That figure breaks the old record from July 1936 by 0.2 degree, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Records go back to 1895. The nation’s five hottest months on record have been recent Julys: 2012, 2011, 2006, 1936, and 1934. The first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation. And August 2011 through July this year was the warmest 12-month period on record, just beating out the July 2011-June 2012 time period.
“It’s a pretty significant increase over the last record,” said climate scientist Jake Crouch of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
In the past, skeptics of global warming have pointed to the Dust Bowl to argue that recent heat isn’t unprecedented, but Mr. Crouch said this shows that the current year “is out and beyond those Dust Bowl years. We’re rivaling and beating them consistently from month to month.”
But it’s not just the heat that’s noteworthy. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a measurement called the U.S. Climate Extreme Index, which dates to 1900 and follows several indicators of unusually high and low temperatures, severe drought, downpours, and tropical storms and hurricanes. NOAA calculates the index as a percentage that mostly reflects how much of the nation experiences extremes. In July, the index was 37 percent, a record that beat the old mark for July last year. The average is 20 percent. For the first seven months of the year, the extreme index was 46 percent, beating the old record from 1934. This year’s extreme index was heavily driven by high temperatures both day and night, which is unusual.
“This would not have happened in the absence of human-caused climate change,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.
Drought is a major player because in the summer “if it is wet, it tends to be cool, while if it is dry, it tends to be hot,” climate analysis chief of the NOAA Kevin Trenberth stated.
But the fact that the first seven months of the year are the hottest on record is much more impressive from a climate standpoint and highlights the fact that there is more than just natural variability playing a role. Global warming from human activities has reared its head in a way that can only be a major warning for the future.