Mother Nature Is Just Getting Warmed Up: Record-Smashing Early December Assures 2012 Will Be Hottest In U.S. History

We’ve had spring weather in early December — and that guarantees 2012 will be the hottest year on record for the United States.

I had reported on Monday that 2012 was virtually certain to be the hottest on record thanks to the warm November and blistering early December. Now Climate Central has done the math:

There is a 99.99999999 percent chance that 2012 will be the hottest year ever recorded in the continental 48 states, based on our analysis of 118 years of temperature records through Dec. 10, 2012.

The chart above is Climate Central’s projection of the 2012 temperature using observations through December 10 and an estimate of typical temperatures for the final 21 days of the month. If this holds true, then 2012 will blow out the previous record (1998) by more than 1°F.

How warm was early December? As Capital Climate calculates using National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) figures:

For the first 10 days of December, new daily record high temperatures have outnumbered record lows by a ratio of 92 to 1. For the 48 contiguous states, the ratio was an incredible 132 to 1, since 3 out of the 10 low records were in Alaska and Hawaii. During the entire week of December 2-8, not a single low temperature record was tied or broken in any of the 50 states, according to NCDC reports. With 3 weeks remaining in the year, the cumulative ratio of heat records to cold records for 2012 has reached 6.0 to 1, more than double the ratio in 2011.

If you want to know how to judge whether these ratios are a big deal, consider that a 2009 National Center for Atmospheric Research study found that the ratio for the entire decade of the 2000s — the hottest decade on record globally — averaged to 2.04, which is roughly double what it was a few decades before (see “Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S.“). NCAR noted, “The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.” Seriously.

This year has rewritten the record books — a winter with spring-like temperatures, a spring with summer-like temperatures, and an all-time hottest July.

You may remember that March Came In Like A Lamb and Went Out Like A Globally Warmed Lion On Steroids Who Smashed 15,000 Heat Records. As NOAA reported, in March, “There were  21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date”!

At the time, Meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters said, “this is not the atmosphere I grew up with.” He published a detailed statistical analysis concluding, “It is highly unlikely the warmth of the current ‘Summer in March’ heat wave could have occurred unless the climate was warming.

The science of attributing extreme events to global warming is still emerging, scientists still disagree to what extent a specific event like this heat wave is driven by global warming. But two of the leading experts explain at RealClimate why even small shifts in average temperature mean “the probability for ‘outlandish’ heat records increases greatly due to global warming.” Furthermore, “the more outlandish a record is, the more would we suspect that non-linear feedbacks are at play – which could increase their likelihood even more.”

And now we know have emerging scientific analysis that connects global warming and what is happening to the Arctic to more extreme events like heat waves:

And remember, we’ve only warmed about a degree and a half Fahrenheit in the past century.  We are on track to warm five times times that or more this century.

In short, Mother Nature is just getting warmed up!

22 Responses to Mother Nature Is Just Getting Warmed Up: Record-Smashing Early December Assures 2012 Will Be Hottest In U.S. History

  1. Jack Burton says:

    How can this be, the deniers are claiming no warming at all for over a decade. Heck, it is cold outside here tonight, what global warming?
    The faithful who worship at the alter of fossil fuels will never ever accept scientific data and measurements, in their minds science is a liberal hoax. God drives and SUV in their religion.

  2. Paul Magnus says:

    Nice to know…

    Climate change: the Inuit now have words for ‘bumblebee’ and ‘robin’
    What’s happening in the Arctic now is what will be happening to us in the next few decades as we watch the natural world around us change rapidly.

  3. Chris says:

    Can’t wait to see what the next few decades will bring. It’s going to be exciting.

  4. Solar Jim says:

    Thanks for using the phrase I believe I used a year or two back, Joe. I am sorry for the children and all life on Earth. It looks likely to be a “non-linear” exponential curve we and the planet have entered at our beckoning. The word unsustainable does not do justice.

    So isn’t it good that some $600 billion of annual global fiscal “fossil fool” subsidies is the same magnitude as fossil buildout planned for the coming year. Peace on Earth.

    Perhaps there is more inherent wisdom in a handful of living soil than in all of humanity. We all live by myth don’t we, although we have been very clever, so far.

  5. Flakmeister says:

    Fancy seeing you here….

    Isn’t discussing climate related matters at ZH a bit like wielding a chain in biker bar fight??

  6. Jacob says:

    “…and now in other, infinitely more important news. Kim Kardashian’s butt is getting a place on the Hollywood Walk of fame. It’s about time. Tell us how that affects your life via Youbook. You’re watching…brought to you by Fossil Fuels for a better America.”

  7. jyyh says:

    Yes, maybe so in US, but US is almost 6,66% of global land areas. Maybe the rest of the world will follow the US lead in this matter. (/sarc)

  8. catman306 says:

    I think you mean years, not decades.

  9. J.R. says:

    And perhaps you meant “year” as in next year.

  10. Superman1 says:

    As exciting as getting a root canal without anasthetic.

  11. E. Swanson says:

    To a climatologist, the weather year in the US of A begins on 1 December. That’s because winter runs from 1 December to the end of February, because the average coldest period is the middle of January. It’s already 2013 in the weather world. So, from a climate point of view, the data for the year 2012 is already in and it looks to be another record…

    E. S.

  12. I’m trying to convince myself that I am singularly privileged to witness the end of the Holocene.

  13. Brooks Bridges says:

    And yet:

    AP-GfK Poll: Science doubters say world is warming

    So, GW getting accepted, next, AGW

  14. M Tucker says:

    Lets see…expanding drought, hottest year on record, record Arctic melt, record low on the Mississippi. And, because of the increase in water vapor due to the warming, we have catastrophic rainfall in the Pacific Northwest. I wonder why this does not seem to impress any of our leaders who acknowledge the science? Why is it so easy to talk about the suffering caused by war but impossible to talk about the suffering caused by global warming?

  15. clifman says:

    What’s the source of the US map shown as the teaser for this article?

  16. Superman1 says:

    We evolved to the wrong level for long-term survival. Had we evolved to ten times smarter, we would have been able to develop technologies along with the collective understanding and will to control them. Had we evolved to ten times less smart, we would never have developed these technologies that will destroy us. But, we evolved to this intermediate stage, smart enough to develop lethal technologies, but not smart and motivated enough to control their side effects. We will pay the ultimate price.

  17. Wordfetish warning says:

    “…scientists still disagree to what extent a specific event like this heat wave is driven by global warming.”

    Just say “Warming makes events like this more likely, and makes them worse,” and get on with the discussion. Scientists disagreeing on words or some notion of degrees of partial causality is a distraction.

  18. Rolf says:

    one thing is for sure this world is going to change in a very short time all sinsts do not take in to factor those millions of options and the do godders that want every one to survive are lossing if we unlock pandoras box which is the tundra in the arctic with polution all humans will be dead with killing most of the worlds oceans we will kill the worlds oxygen sypply
    end of story

  19. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘ God drives, Jesus saves, Moses invests…and Heaven help us all’.

  20. Solar Jim says:

    As I have mentioned before, to support your point, if forest and phytoplankton ecosystems are not rescued from current morbidity trends, then it could be game over for metabolic respiration of animal life, which is based on oxygen.

    The heat, drought and submergence will be devastating. Low oxygen would be an extinction event on a geologic scale.

  21. Eric Stacy says:

    “May you live in interesting times.”

    – Ancient Chinese curse

  22. Dave Johnson says:

    Had we been ten times smarter, we would have passed on fire and left well enough alone in the first place.