NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center reports today that this January to August is the warmest year-to-date on record for the contiguous United States. As Climate Central shows in this chart, the U.S. will easily beat the previous record warm year, 1998 — unless the rest of the year is unusually cold:
Graphic illustrating temperature anomalies for some of the warmest years on record in the U.S., and how much cooler than average the September through December period would need to be to avoid setting a record for the warmest year. Credit: Climate Central/NCDC.
Climate Central notes “according to The Weather Channel, taking only the years since World War II, the odds of not surpassing the warmest year are just 7 percent.” But that estimate, of course, downplays the effect on the odds of the recent manmade warming.
Finally, January through December is a somewhat arbitrary demarcation. We already blew past the record for warmest 12-months period in August, as NCDC shows in this chart:
The August 2011-July 2012 temperature beat the previous pre-2012 record by over half a degree Fahrenheit!
Of course, if we keep doing nothing about human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, these records will be broken on an increasingly frequent basis — see Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year — and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!
And for those who actually care about future generations, there is every reason to believe that the Earth would just keep getting hotter and hotter:
- Science stunner — On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter: Paleoclimate data suggests CO2 “may have at least twice the effect on global temperatures than currently projected by computer models.”