The U.S. has warmed a little over one-tenth of one degree Fahrenheit per decade since the end of the 19th Century, according to government climatologists.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists announced the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) averaged 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016, which is 2.9 degrees above the 20th Century average.
The warmest year on record for the U.S. was 2012, with an average of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit for the year. NOAA said 2016’s warmth meant that “[s]ince 1895, the CONUS has observed an average temperature increase of 0.15°F per decade.”
That’s equivalent to 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit of warming over 100 years.
The US has experienced an above average annual temperature for the last two decades, and 2016 ranked 24th in terms of precipitation and saw the lowest area average area subject to drought since 2010.
“The year started with one of the strongest El Niños on record ushering in Pacific moisture and much needed drought relief to parts of the West, in the form of high elevation snowpack and valley rains,” reads NOAA’s climate assessment.
Winter 2015/2016 was also the warmest on record, according to NOAA. “Forty-six states across the contiguous U.S. had a winter temperature that was above average,” the agency wrote, adding “[s]ix states in the Northeast had a winter temperature that was record warm.”
2016 was also a big year for extreme weather events exceeding $1 billion, according to NOAA. The lower 48 states were hit by 15 such weather events, costing 138 lives and $46 billion in damages.
Hurricane Matthew nearly became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. in the last 11 years, but stayed just off the Atlantic Coast. Matthew still caused lots of damage to the southeastern U.S.
Some scientists and activists said Matthew was amplified by global warming, but there’s there’s little evidence global warming has increased the intensity or frequency of hurricanes in the last century.
“Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found in 2013.
“No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin,” the IPCC found.
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