Sandy Tops List of 2012 Extreme Weather & Climate Events
No. 10 — 333 Straight Months of Warmer Temperatures, and Counting
While the heat in the U.S. was especially notable in 2012, that doesn’t tell the whole story of what is happening to the global climate system. Globally, the year was much warmer than average as well, despite the presence of a cooling La Nina event during the first half of the year.
The month of November continued an unbroken streak of warmer-than-average temperatures that dates back to 1985 — the year the hit film “Back to the Future” first hit theaters — with global average surface temperatures ranking as the fifth-warmest such month on record, according to figures recently released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
November was the 333rd month in a row with a global average surface temperature that was above the 20th century average, a clear sign of the warming trend that scientific evidence shows is due at in large part to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. And with mild temperatures in early December, that string of record warm months seems likely to continue.
To put it another way, if you are under the age of 27, you have never experienced a month in which global average surface temperatures came in below the 20th century average, as the environmental news website Grist reported in October.
For the year-to-date, NOAA reported that 2012 is on track to be the eighth warmest year on record, due largely to near-record warmth over land areas from April to September, and above-average sea surface temperatures. The September-to-November period was especially mild, coming in just behind 2005 for the second-warmest such period