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2014 is Earth's Warmest Year on Record

1/16/2015 Last year was Earth's hottest on record in new evidence that people are disrupting the climate by burning fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the air, two U.S. government agencies said on Friday. The White House said the studies, by the U.S. space agency NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showed climate change was happening now and that action was needed to cut rising world greenhouse gas emissions.

The 10 warmest years since records began in the 19th century have all been since 1997, the data showed. Last year was the warmest, ahead of 2010, undermining claims by some skeptics that global warming has stopped in recent years.

Record temperatures in 2014 were spread around the globe, including most of Europe stretching into northern Africa, the western United States, far eastern Russia into western Alaska, parts of interior South America, parts of eastern and western coastal Australia and elsewhere, NASA and NOAA said.

"While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases," said the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York.

“The data shows quite clearly that it's the greenhouse gas trends that are responsible for the majority of the trends," he told reporters. Emissions were still rising “so we may anticipate further record highs in the years to come.”

U.N. studies show there already are more extremes of heat and rainfall and project ever more disruptions to food and water supplies. Sea levels are rising, threatening millions of people living near coasts, as ice melts from Greenland to Antarctica.

The new data "is another reminder that climate change is not a problem for the future - it's happening here and now and we can't wait to take action," a White House official said in a statement. The director of climate research at Britain's National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, said a single year did not mean much because it might be a freak hot year.

"But the fact that now 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred since the turn of the century shows just how clear global warming has become," he said.

Even so, temperatures have not risen as fast as they did in the 1980s or 1990s, taking an unusually warm 1998 as a starting point. The IPCC has described it as a hiatus in warming.

Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius), NASA said. The NASA and NOAA analyses showed that the world's oceans all warmed last year, offsetting somewhat more moderate temperatures over land.

The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.24 degrees F (0.69 degree C) above the 20th century average, NOAA said.

The scientists noted that the record was set in a year that did not have the weather pattern known as El Niño, which can heat up the atmosphere and has been a factor in many past record-setting years, including 1998.

2010 Ties 2005 as Warmest Year on Record Worldwide

1/12/2011 The average worldwide temperature was 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit (0.62 degree Celsius) above normal in 2010. That's the same as 2005, the National Climatic Data Center announced. Climate experts have become increasingly concerned about rising global temperatures over the last century. Most atmospheric scientists attribute the change to gases released into the air by industrial processes and gasoline-burning engines.

In addition, the Global Historical Climatology Network states that 2010 was the wettest on record. Rain and snowfall patterns varied greatly around the world.

"The warmth in 2010 reinforces the notion that we are seeing climate change," said David Easterling, chief of scientific services at the climatic data center. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, he noted. The exception was 1998, which is the third warmest year on record going back to 1880.

Easterling said the data "unequivocally" disproves claims that climate warming ended in 2005. The temperature readings are collected at land stations and from ships and buoys at sea. The "normal" reading they use is the average worldwide temperature for the 20th century, which was 57.0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures over land surfaces were the warmest in 2010, averaging 1.80 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, while ocean temperatures were the third warmest on record at 0.88 degrees above average. A La Nina condition took effect at the last half of the year, marked by below normal temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. While it was the wettest year on record, Easterling declined to link warmer temperatures with the unusual moisture, commenting that much more research would be needed in that area.

Arctic sea ice cover was the third smallest since records began in 1979, trailing only 2007 and 2008. The ice cover is considered a marker of climate change as global warming tends to be seen first at the poles.

Despite the overall warmth, 2010 saw record cold and snow in January and February in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly eastern North America.

From mid-June to mid-August 2010 an unusually strong jet stream shifted northward, bringing an unprecedented two-month heat wave to Russia and adding to devastating floods in Pakistan.

For the contiguous United States it was the 14th consecutive year with above average temperatures.

Baltimore's 2010 Record Summer Heat Stats

June, 2010: Warmest June on Record
...Warmest Worldwide but China, NW US Cooler

7/15/2010 June 2010 was the warmest June on record, extending months of record-setting heat. Worldwide, the average temperature in June was 61.1 degrees Fahrenheit (16.2 Celsius), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. That was 1.22 degrees F (0.68 C) warmer than average for June.

The year 2010 has had the warmest average temperature for January-June on record — 57.5 F (12.2 C).

Peru, the central and eastern regions of the United States, and eastern and western Asia were warmer than usual in June 2010. Scandinavia, southern China and the northwestern United States were all cooler than normal.

NOAA also said that Arctic sea ice covered 4.2 million square miles (10.9 million square kilometers). This is the lowest June coverage since records began in 1979 and 10.6 percent below the 1979-2000 average. It is the 19th consecutive June with below average sea ice.

2006 Warmest Yet in US
...Sixth-Warmest Worldwide

1/9/2007 The year 2006 was the warmest on record for the United States, with readings pushed over higher than normal by the unusual and unseasonably warm weather during the last half of December.

Data from the National Climatic Data Center listed the average temperature for the 48 contiguous states last year as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. That's 2.2 degrees warmer than average and 0.07 degree warmer than 1998, the previous warmest year on record. Worldwide, the agency said, it was the sixth warmest year on record.

The Center said it is not clear how much of the warming is a result of greenhouse-gas induced climate change and how much resulted from El Nino warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean.

El Nino conditions occur every few years in the Pacific and can affect climate around the world, including producing warmer conditions in the US.

The average U.S. and global temperature are both about 1 degree warmer than at the start of the 20th century, a change many scientists attribute to gases released into the atmosphere by industrial processes. The temperature data was collected from a network of more than 1,200 stations across the country.

2005 Continued the Warming Trend
...Temperatures Among the Highest on Record, Scientists Announce

12/16/2005 2005 has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.

Three studies released 12/15/05 all indicate the Earth is rapidly warming. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has concluded 2005 was the warmest year in recorded history, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Meteorological Office call it the second hottest, after 1998. All three groups agree that 2005 is the hottest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere, at roughly 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the historical average.

The three teams used the same set of ocean and land temperature records, but they analyzed the data and compensated for gaps in the climatic record differently. As a result, NASA scientists estimate that 2005 average global land and sea temperatures were 1.04 degrees Fahrenheit above average, just beating out 1998's 1-degree elevation. NOAA researchers, by contrast, say this year's global average is 1.06 degrees Fahrenheit above average, compared with 1.1 degrees in 1998. The analyses were based on data through the end of November and projections of December temperatures.
The Earth has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century, with 1 degree of this increase occurring in the past 30 years. This climate change has brought unusually prolonged droughts in some regions and heavy precipitation in others, while the Arctic's sea ice has shrunk to its lowest level since observers started using satellite records in 1979. NASA's Goddard Institute said this year's statistics were particularly significant because in 1998 the world experienced El Nino, which drove up temperatures dramatically. Year 2005, by contrast, the world reached record levels without such a dramatic climatic event.

The world's temperatures are on an upward trend, NASA contends, "because it is being driven by the Earth's present energy imbalance, which is substantial." As long as humans keep adding more heat-trapping greenhouse gases, "the planet stays out of energy balance."

U.N. Says 2003 is 3rd-Hottest Year on Record
...Planet's 3rd-Hottest Year in Past 150

12/16/2003 With nearly half the country reeling from a blistering drought, the summer of 2002 was the hottest since the depression-stricken "Dust Bowl" era of the 1930s, U.S. government weather experts said.

The year 2003, marked by a sweltering summer and drought across large swaths of the planet, was the third hottest in nearly 150 years, the United Nations weather agency said . The World Meteorological Organization estimated the average surface temperature for the year to be 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the normal 57 degrees.

The agency said that warmer weather could not be attributed to any one cause but was part of a trend that global warming was likely to prolong. The agency, which collects data from forecasters worldwide, said the three hottest years since accurate records began to be kept in 1861 have all been in the past six years. The hottest was 1998, when the average temperature was up 0.99 degrees.

"The rhythm of temperature increases is accelerating," said a WMO official.

In summer '03, much of Europe was struck by a prolonged heat wave, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees. The hot weather was blamed for the deaths of thousands, most in France, and devastating forest fires in several countries. It also accelerated the melting of Alpine glaciers, the WMO said.

India and Pakistan also were hit by a deadly heat wave in May and June, when 1,500 people died as temperatures soared above 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The western United States continued to suffer from drought, and wildfires in California burned nearly 75,000 acres of land in October.

In the southern hemisphere springtime, Australia logged a record September temperature of over 109 degrees.

Over the 2002-03 winter, North America received its 10th lowest recorded snowfall, although the northeastern United States was battered with a record snowstorm in February.

Other parts of the world also faced extreme winter weather. January temperatures in northeastern Russia dropped to -49 degrees, while Mongolia also was gripped by an exceptionally harsh winter for the third year running, devastating livestock.

Summer of 2002 Was Hottest Since 1930s Dust Bowl
...Since 1895, 3rd-Hottest June-August

9/13/2002 With nearly half the country reeling from a blistering drought, the summer of 2002 was the hottest since the depression-stricken "Dust Bowl" era of the 1930s, U.S. government weather experts said.

The summer's scorching temperatures sparked raging forest fires in the West, wilted crops in the Midwest and parched pastures in the Plains. NOAA said the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. from June through August was 73.9 degrees, the third hottest summer since records began in 1895. The only summers warmer were 1936 and 1934, when vast numbers of farmers were driven from their land by drought.
"It's very extraordinary to have the warmest summer since the 1930s Dust Bowl days," said a drought specialist for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Although the U.S. economy is no longer as dependent on agriculture as it was in the 1930s, a major drought in 2000 caused damage worth $4 billion and claimed 140 lives nationwide. That summer in 2000 was only the 12th warmest on record.

Moderate to extreme drought covered more than 45 percent of the United States. Six states -- North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada -- suffered their worst drought on record. South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, Delaware and Wyoming were also near unprecedented dry levels. NOAA officials predicted the direct loss of the year's drought would certainly be in the billions of dollars.

"It will be a significant dollar impact, but nothing similar to 1988 where the Corn Belt was devastated by drought -- well over $10 billion of direct damage," NOAA said.

NOAA said the 2002 drought would continue to linger for another six months due to the arrival of a weak El Nino weather anomaly.

The most extensive national drought in the past 100 years was in 1934 when it hit 80 percent of the country. Studying tree ring records, NOAA researchers said the severity of the 1930s drought was likely surpassed only in the 1570s and 1580s.

Summer 2001 Fifth-Warmest
Long-term Western U.S. Drought Continued

9/27/2001 Summer was a bit warmer than normal, with temperatures reaching their fifth-highest levels during June, July and August, according to government climate experts.

Temperatures averaged 73.6 degrees Fahrenheit during the just- completed summer. That's 1.5 degrees above normal. Rainfall averaged 8.4 inches across the country during the summer, close to the long-term average of 8.2 inches.

The information published Wednesday by the government's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., covers meteorological summer, which is June, July and August. The agency said that while national temperatures were above normal, cooler than normal readings were seen in much of the Southeast.

The biggest heat wave struck in late July and early August, beginning in the southern Plains and stretching into the upper Midwest, with higher-than-normal temperatures extending into the northeastern United States by the second week of August.

Daily highs in the 90s and 100s, combined with high humidity, led to dangerous heat stress levels and numerous heat-related deaths. It was the fourth warmest August on record with a nationally average temperature of 74.9, some 2.1 degrees above the long-term mean.

The wettest weather occurred along the central Gulf Coast region, as tropical storms Allison and Barry brought heavy rains during June and August, respectively.

Rainfall in the West did little to alleviate long-term drought, which worsened in many parts of the Northwest.

By the end of August, moderate to extreme drought conditions covered much of that region, as well as western Wyoming and Montana, the Climate Center reported.

Delmarva Had Very Dry October 2000
Among the Driest Since 1870

11/2/00 -- The cities of Baltimore and Washington DC -- and many portions of the mid-Atlantic region-- completed a very dry (and in some cases rainless, as in Raleigh NC) October 2000. Here are the five driest months since 1870 for Washington, DC and Baltimore Md (source: NWS):

DRIEST MONTHS ON RECORD IN WASHINGTON DC:
OCTOBER 1963........ TRACE
OCTOBER 2000........ 0.02''
APRIL 1985............... 0.03''
SEPTEMBER 1884...... 0.14''
DECEMBER 1889....... 0.19''
SEPTEMBER 1967...... 0.20''


DRIEST MONTHS ON RECORD IN BALTIMORE:
OCTOBER 1963...... TRACE
OCTOBER 1924...... 0.05''
OCTOBER 2000...... 0.08''
SEPTEMBER 1884.... 0.09''
JUNE 1954.............. 0.15''
OCTOBER 1874...... 0.16 ''

2000 Warmest First-Half Year In U.S. Ever

NOAA said January to June 2000 was the warmest first half of the year since the agency began record-keeping 106 years ago. It was the warmest six-month period on record for New Mexico and the second-warmest for Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Texas. The six-month period was also the third-driest year-to-date for Florida and the second-wettest for New York, NOAA said.

Mid-Atlantic: Wet Spring 2000 Helped
...April 2000's Rains Provided Later Gains

The wettest April in 17 years diminished the drought threat in many mid-Atlantic areas during summer 2000. Slightly more than 5 inches fell at BWI in April 2000, about 2 inches above normal. In some places well levels were 3-5 feet higher than they were at the same time in 1999.

The 1999 drought followed a dry Fall '98 and Winter '98-'99. Many parts of the mid-Atlantic entered Summer 2000 after a wet Fall '99 and normal Winter '99-'00, and above average rainfall in the Spring. The dire predicitions of a widespread 2000 mid-Atlantic Summer drought never came to pass.
Below are some related links to assist in planning for your vacation, business and agricultural interests.


Radar-Satellite Overlay Loop
Latest Extended Temp Forecast
Latest Extended Precip Forecast
Palmer Index (Drought Severity)
Fire Growth Potential (Haines Index
Soil Moisture
14-Day Soil Moisture Outlook
Vegetation
Crop Moisture Index
Mid-Atlantic 3-Hour Flash Flood Guidance

Last 30-Days of US Precip

Mid-Atlantic/NE US Drought/Water Supply Maps

Map: Regional Flood Potential / Current River Forecasts


Drought Update

Weekly Rainfall  - Click to enlarge
Rainfall Needed to End Drought - Click to enlarge


Summers Are Getting Hotter

7/28/17 The year 2017's scorching summer events, like heat waves rolling through southern Europe and temperatures nearing 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Pakistan, are part of this broader trend. Summer temperatures have shifted toward more extreme heat over the past several decades.

To create the bell curves below, actual summer temperatures for each decade since the 1980s were compared to a fixed baseline average. During the base period, 1951 to 1980, about a third of summers across the Northern Hemisphere were in what they called a “near average” or normal range. A third were considered cold; a third were hot.

Since then, summer temperatures have shifted drastically, the researchers found. Between 2005 and 2015, two-thirds of summers were in the hot category, while nearly 15 percent were in a new category: extremely hot.
Summer Trends - Click to enlarge

Practically, that means most summers today are either hot or extremely hot compared to the mid-20th century. The big increase in summer temperatures under the dark red category of extreme heat is “right in line” with what scientists expect to see as the climate warms over all, said the research director at Climate Central, a nonprofit science and news organization.

For each time period, the distribution of summer temperatures forms what is known as a bell curve because most measurements fall near the average, forming the bump – or bell – in the middle. More extreme temperatures, which happen less frequently, fall in the wings, with heat waves on the right and cold-snaps on the left.

As the curve’s average – the top of the peak – shifts rightward over time, more temperatures in more places end up in the hot and extremely hot categories and fewer end up in the cold category.

The curves also flattens out, which some have suggested is an indication of greater temperature variability. But other climate scientists have pointed out that this effect is mainly due to some parts of the world warming faster than others. There is no evidence yet that temperatures are becoming more variable in most parts of the world after warming has been accounted for.

Data “really highlights that changes in the average, while they may seem modest, have big implications for the extremes. And that’s what’s going to affect society and ecosystems,” a climate expert said. The findings reveal what’s happened so far, but also provide “a glimpse to what’s in our future.”


Daily Streamflow Conditions
Daily Streamflow Conditions





How Wildfires Begin (Flash required)

Fire Weather Forecast - click to enlarge

FEMA: How Wildfires Begin

Climate Change, Water, and Risk:
Current Water Demands Are Not Sustainable

Climate change will have a significant impact on the sustainability of water supplies in the coming decades. A new analysis, performed by consulting firm Tetra Tech for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), examined the effects of global warming on water supply and demand in the contiguous United States. The study found that more than 1,100 counties -- one-third of all counties in the lower 48 -- will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming. More than 400 of these counties will face extremely high risks of water shortages.



Winter Drought: Precipitation 9/1/01 thru 2/13/02
Location
Rainfall
Departure
% of Normal
Wash. National Arpt5.85"-11.54"
33%
Dulles Airport8.76"-9.01"
49%
BWI Airport9.60"-8.71"
52%
Charlottesville VA9.06"-12.12"
43%
Martinsburg WV7.20"-9.31"
43%
Source: NWS
The dry weather continued through 2/25/02. Rainfall from Feb 13-25:
Wash. National Arpt - Trace
Dulles Airport - 0.05"
BWI Airport - 0.05"
Martinsburg WV - 0.01", and only 0.16" for the entire month

November 2001 Stats: Maryland and Elsewhere

A persistent high-pressure zone over the Eastern states blocked storms and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and sustained a pattern of warm, dry winds from the west.
  • November 2001 likely to be ranked the warmest November on record nationwide.
  • Third-driest autumn in 131 years in Baltimore. Only 3.21 inches of rain were recorded at the airport from September through November -- 6.5 inches below normal.
  • Stream flow into the Chesapeake Bay was the lowest since record-keeping began in 1937.
  • BWI Airport temperatures averaged 50.7 degrees -- almost 4 degrees above normal. The average high for the month is 58 degrees, but strong sunshine drove the high temperature to 70 degrees or above on 7 days, and to 60 degrees or higher on 21 days.
  • 12th-warmest November on record in Baltimore, and only the fourth November since 1948 during which the average temperature has exceeded 50 degrees.
  • Washington and New York City had their warmest Novembers ever.
  • No snow fell in Buffalo in November, the first time that's happened in 122 years of record-keeping.
  • BWI recorded only seven cloudy days all month.
  • The only significant rain in Maryland from Oct 16 - Nov 30th (and into December, actually) was a series of showers and thunderstorms Nov. 24-25 that dropped more than 2 inches in the Baltimore area, and an inch or more in parts of Howard and Baltimore counties. But BWI and most other sites throughout the state received less than an inch.
  • Drought watches remained in effect for many areas of the Northeastern U.S.
  • Rain shortages September - November ranged from 7.2 inches in Worcester County to 3.7 inches in Montgomery County.

Notable Mid-Atlantic Dryspells

Oct 1- Nov 19, 2001
(50 Days)

BWI... 0.78''
DCA... 0.70''
IAD... 1.43''

All 3 airports reported 0.01'' from Oct 17-Nov 19.

Apr 18-May 17, 2001
(30 Days)

BWI... 0.01''
DCA... 0.06''
... followed by.....
Rainfall May 18-May 27, 2001
(10 Days)

BWI... 5.31''
DCA... 3.75''

IAD had 5.67'' for May through 5/27/01

Summer of 2000 Drought Stats
Month-by-month stats:

  • Nationally 12/29/00: 92,250+ fires and 7.4 million acres burned
  • South Dakota, 8/00: Flames burned 101 square miles of the Black Hills National Forest, the largest in the forest's modern history (as of 8/28).
  • Texas, 8/00: Farmers and rangers had lost approx $600M in fire damages through late August
  • Texas, 7/00: 206 fires had burned 5,244 acres in July. This year, 143,174 acres have burned, compared with 156,738 acres in all of 1999. At least 35 deaths blamed on the heat.
  • Through late August, 6.2 million acres in the US had burned.
  • 8/00: During July, nearly 1/3 of the nation experienced severe-to- extreme drought conditions, including parts of Texas July was the driest ever recorded.
  • 8/00: A hotter-than-normal July and lack of rain led to the worst wildfire season in 50 years for many western states. Nevada and Arizona recorded their second-driest July in history. Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Utah had rainfall significantly below average.
  • 8/00: U.S. government was spending $15M daily to support the military and civilian crews at work against the wildfires.
  • Drought extended from SC through GA, AL, FL, Gulf Coast Louisiana and parts of West Texas.
  • Florida's Gulf Coast had its driest spring since at least 1915, when records were first kept.
  • Georgia posted the driest May since 1895, with rivers at record lows.
  • 5/00: Across the Southeast, over 433,000 acres had burned as of this time. By contrast, the high-profile fires in the Southwest had scorched 130,000 fewer acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
  • 5/00: Forest fires had consumed over 42,347 acres in Georgia - nearly as much as in all of 1999, when 47,370 acres burned.
  • From January-May, 3,365 fires had burned nearly 120,000 acres throughout Florida.
  • People bought fewer trees and shrubs that summer, apparently fearing that they would wither in the unrelenting sun.

July-December 1998 Mid-Atlantic Drought (BWI)
(covering approximately 182 days)
Month Monthly Norm Actual Rainy Days
July 98
3.69"
1.42"
4
Aug 98
3.92"
0.91"
3
Sep 98
3.41"
1.27"
6
Oct 98
2.98"
1.06"
7
Nov 98
3.32"
1.13"
5
Dec 98
3.41"
1.36"
7
Total:
20.73"
7.15
32

Summer 1999 Mid-Atlantic Drought (BWI)
(covering 177 days through 9/14/99)

Month Norm Actual Rainy
Days
Rain Days
less than 0.10"
Mar 22-31
1.12"
0.18"
4
3
April
3.09"
2.27"
11
5
May
3.72"
1.72"
5
3
June
3.67"
2.03"
9
4
July
3.69"
2.06
10
5
Aug
3.92"
6.14"
7
2
Sep
*3.41"
^3.43"
5
1
Total:
*19.21"
^17.83"
51
23
   May 22-23 overnight 0.77'' was most rain in 1 month.
   May 24:   0.86'' on doubled the monthly May rain total.
   Aug 1-23: 1.99" but Aug 24-26 4.15".
*  Norm through September 30th.
^  Actual through September 14th (Sept 3-6 remnants from 
     TS Dennis = 2.52").
 

Sept 15-16 received 5.80" from Hurricane Floyd,
  effectively ending the water shortage, and putting
  Central MD above year-to-date norms.

Sept 21st--received another 1" of rain, bringing total
  September '99 rainfall above 10 inches.



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