The year 2012 was the warmest on record for the
contiguous United States (ex Alaska and Hawaii), overtaking the previous record
by a full degree in Fahrenheit temperature, a US government climate agency said
on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Monday
was called the "hottest day on record" after the Australian Bureau of
Meteorology (BoM) calculated a national average high temperature of 40.33
degrees C (104.6 degrees F), the Australian ABC News website said.
The single average Australian temperature was
compiled from between 700 and 800 daily readings spread across the country, the
BoM's Dr. Donald Jones said. The former record high, set in 1972, was part of a
comprehensive Australian weather record that dates back to the start of 1911.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) said the average temperature in 2012 in the contiguous
United States was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit (12.94 degrees Celsius), 3.2 degrees
above the average recorded during the 20th century and 1.0 degree above 1998.
The year consisted of the fourth warmest
winter, a record warm spring, the second warmest summer, and a
warmer-than-average autumn. Although the last four months of 2012 did not
bring the same unusual warmth as the first 8 months of the year, the September
through December temperatures were warm enough for 2012 to remain the record
warmest year, by a wide margin.
The average precipitation total for the
contiguous US for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, and the 15th
driest year on record for the nation.
NOAA said the US Climate Extremes Index indicated
that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation. The
index, which evaluates extremes in temperature and precipitation, as well as
landfalling tropical cyclones, was nearly twice the average value and second
only to 1998.
The New York Times says if the record does not
sound sufficiently impressive, consider that 34,008 daily high records were
set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record
lows, according to a count maintained by the Weather Channel meteorologist Guy
Walton, using federal temperature records.
That ratio, which was
roughly in balance as recently as the 1970s, has been out of whack for decades
as the country has warmed, but never by as much as it was last year.
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