2012 another record-setter, fits climate forecasts
|By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer|
This past year's weather was deadly, costly and record-breaking everywhere _ but especially in
If that sounds familiar, it should. The previous year also was one for the record books.
"We've had two years now of some angry events," said
In 2012 many of the warnings scientists have made about global warming went from dry studies in scientific journals to real-life video played before our eyes: Record melting of the ice in the
All of that was predicted years ago by climate scientists and all of that happened in 2012.
"What was predicted was there would be more of these things," said Michel Jarraud, secretary general for the
Globally, five countries this year set heat records, but none set cold records. 2012 is on track to be the warmest year on record in
July was the hottest month in record-keeping U.S. history, averaging 77.6 degrees. Over the year, more than 69,000 local heat records were set _ including 356 locations in 34 states that hit their highest-ever temperature mark.
America's heartland lurched from one extreme to the other without stopping at "normal." Historic flooding in 2011 gave way to devastating drought in 2012.
"The normal has changed, I guess," said
While much of the U.S. struggled with drought that conjured memories of the Dust Bowl, parts of
But the most troubling climate development this year was the melting at the top of the world, Jarraud said. Summer sea ice in
There were other weather extremes no one predicted: A European winter cold snap that killed more than 800 people. A bizarre summer windstorm called a derecho in the U.S. mid-Atlantic that left millions without power. Antarctic sea ice that inched to a record high. More than a foot of post-
Arndt points to the geographic heart of America, the
The U.S. went through the same lurching extremes on tornadoes. Those storms killed 553 people last year, Furgione said. This year began with many tornadoes, then in April they just stopped. April to November, normal tornado season, saw the fewest F1 or stronger tornadoes in the U.S. ever.
"Every year is bringing different types of extreme weather and climate events," NOAA chief
Not everything is connected to man-made global warming, climate scientists say. Some, like tornadoes, have no scientifically discernible connection. Others, like the
These are "clearly not freak events," but "systemic changes," said climate scientist
Scientists _ both those studying global warming and those studying hurricanes _ have warned for more than a decade about a hurricane with big storm surge hitting
For decades, scientists have predicted extensive droughts from global warming. This year, the drought of 2012 was so extensive that nearly 2,300 counties _ in almost every state _ were declared agriculture disasters. At one point this summer more than 65 percent of the Lower 48 was suffering from drought.
And with lack of water, came fire, something also mentioned as more likely in scientific reports about global warming. Fire season in
"Take any one of these events in isolation, it might be possible to yell `fluke!' Take them collectively, it provides confirmation of precisely what climate scientists predicted would happen decades ago if we proceeded with business-as-usual fossil fuel burning, as we have,"
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