This blog post was co-written with Forbes Tompkins, an intern with WRI's Climate and Energy Program.
According to new data, 2012 was a chart-topping year for the United States – but not in a good way.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Climate Data Center (NCDC) recently declared 2012 to be the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. This year shattered the previous record temperature, set in 1998, by 1.0°F. The year was also marked by 11 extreme weather events that each caused more than $1 billion of damages.
In a year that brought the United States record-breaking wildfire activity, an ongoing drought, and Hurricane Sandy, perhaps these announcements aren’t surprising. But they are troubling: Record-breaking temperatures and the rising frequency of extreme weather events illustrate that climate change is happening. These trends are expected to worsen the longer we delay serious action to reduce carbon pollution.
Take a look at a few of the figures illustrating the intensity and impacts of 2012’s extreme weather and climate events: