Record-breaking temperatures now the new norm

Updated
Buildings are seen near the ocean as reports indicate that Miami-Dade County could be one of the most susceptible places when it comes to rising water levels.
Buildings are seen near the ocean as reports indicate that Miami-Dade County could be one of the most susceptible places when it comes to rising water levels.
Joe Raedle/Getty

Rising temperatures were at unprecedented levels worldwide in 2012, with the United States experiencing its warmest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2012 State of the Climate report.

The report released online Tuesday expanded on preliminary results from earlier this year showing that surface temperatures in the Arctic saw an increase last year at a rate about two times faster than the rest of the globe, while polar sea ice coverage reached record lows.

“The records or near records being reported from year to year are no longer anomalies or exceptions,” said Jackie Richter-Menge, research civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “They have become the rule for us.”

Richter-Menge’s observation is also reflected in the report’s findings on rising sea levels and trends in the oceans. According to the study, the global sea level reached a record high in 2012, increasing at an average rate of 3.2 mm per year over the last two decades.

Along with tracking the severe changes in the Arctic, the NOAA report also touched on the rise of greenhouse gas concentrations in 2012, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—all which increased from the previous year.

The report comes as environmental groups continue to keep a close eye on President Obama’s next steps on addressing climate change. In June, Obama laid out a series of reforms to reduce greenhouse emissions and to develop renewable clean energy.

Last week, newly-confirmed EPA administrator Gina McCarthy promised to take aggressive actions aimed toward cutting carbon pollution and confronting climate change deniers. “We are not going to stop looking at the science,” McCarthy said.

Earlier this summer, Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine introduced a bill into the House Science Committee that would likely defund NOAA’s climate research in favor of weather forecasting.

On Twitter, Bridenstine criticized the NOAA for focusing on “lower priorities” over weather prediction. “It is possible to provide over an hour of warning time for tornadoes,” Bridenstine tweeted in July. “HR 2413 helps us move closer to the goal of preventing any lives from being needlessly lost.”

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Record-breaking temperatures now the new norm

Updated