2006 on pace to be warmest year on record in the US
July 17, 2006

The average temperature for the continental United States from January through June 2006 was the warmest first half of any year since records began in 1895, according to scientists at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)

NOAA data showed that the average January-June temperature for the contiguous United States was 51.8°F (11.0°C) -- 3.4°F (1.8°C) above the 20th century (1901-2000) average. The government agency noted that five states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri) experienced record warmth for the period while no state was cooler than average.

NOAA also reported that last month was the second warmest June on record and national precipitation was below average. It said that continued below-normal-levels of precipitation combined with warmer-than-average temperatures expanded drought conditions across the country.

"In June," said the agency, "45 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme drought (based on the Palmer Drought Index), an increase of 6 percent from May, while 27 percent was in severe-extreme drought (up from 20 percent in May). Additionally, since January, warm, dry conditions have spawned more than 50,000 wildfires, burning more than 3,000,000 acres in the contiguous U.S. and Alaska (according to the National Interagency Fire Center)."

U.S. temperatures for July 17, 2006.
Courtesy of weather.com
Global findings

Based on preliminary data NOAA found that the global surface temperature was second warmest on record for June since records began in 1880. Temperatures for the month were 1.08°F/0.60°C above the 20th century mean. Overall NOAA said that 2006 is the sixth warmest year-to-date for the January-June period, 0.90°F/0.50°C above average.

NOAA's results come just months after a NASA study found that 2005 was the warmest year on record. Scientists say that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are contributing to climbing global temperatures. Recent research suggests that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are at the highest level in at least 650,000 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could rise significantly by 2050, possibly resulting in higher temperatures, rising sea levels, stronger storms and hurricanes, and expanding deserts.


Earth at Warmest in 400 Years
There is sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other "proxies" of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Less confidence can be placed in proxy-based reconstructions of surface temperatures for A.D. 900 to 1600, said the committee that wrote the report, although the available proxy evidence does indicate that many locations were warmer during the past 25 years than during any other 25-year period since 900. Very little confidence can be placed in statements about average global surface temperatures prior to A.D. 900 because the proxy data for that time frame are sparse, the committee added.

World temperatures highest in 1200 years
World temperatures are higher than in any period over the last 1,200 years, according to a study published in the current issue of Science. In reaching their conclusion, a research team from the University of East Anglia in Britain analyzed 14 sets of temperature records including data from rings, fossil shells, ice cores, temperature records, and historical documents from North America, Europe and East Asia.

Carbon dioxide level highest in 650,000 years
Carbon dioxide levels are now 27 percent higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years, according to research into Antarctic ice cores published on Thursday in Science. Analysis of carbon dioxide in the ancient Antarctic ice showed that at no point in the past 650,000 years did levels approach today's carbon dioxide concentrations of around 380 parts per million (ppm). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could reach 450-550 ppm by 2050, possibly resulting in higher temperatures and rising sea levels. There is fear that climate change could create a class of environmental refugees displaced from their homes by rising oceans, increasingly catastrophic weather, and expanding deserts.

This article used information and quotes from a National Climatic Data Center news release.

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2006 on pace to be warmest year on record in the US.