Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Heat in the US Northeast and Drought Around the World

Against a backdrop of wildfires and droughts, heat records are being broken across the US but nowhere more than in the Northeast. After a winter with very little snow, people in the Northeast have been subjected to record breaking heat for the first seven months of 2012. The period between July 2011 to July 2012 was also the warmest 12-months in the Northeast ever recorded. The weather is making headlines across the nation with more than half of the country suffering from high temperatures and little rain. The drought is driving up the cost of agricultural commodities and contributing to price volatility, they may even lead to a food crisis. Although it is abnormally dry in the Northeast, they have escaped drought conditions, what they cannot escape is heat.

The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University reported that July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the contiguous US. The Northeast had the warmest January through July on record. The average temperature in the 12-state region during this period was 49.9 degrees.

All throughout the Northeast there have been single day record breaking heat in July. The climate center reported that in July Washington's Reagan National Airport hit 105 degrees, Baltimore and Newark recorded 104 degrees, Syracuse hit 101, and New York City's LaGuardia Airport also saw temperatures of 101 degrees.

The US is not the only nation suffering from drought, extreme dry spells in China, Africa, Russia, Australia and Western Europe may be suggestive of a permanent change in climate patterns.

Last year was no better, as the summer of 2011 was marked by record heat and drought. Russia lost 13.3 million acres of crops, or about 17 percent of its production. Also in 2011, drought was so severe in the Horn of Africa that it killed 60 percent of Ethiopia’s cattle and 40 percent of its sheep.

If it were not for last year and the year before, this year could be easily dismissed as an anomaly. When you have consistent warming and a string of record breaking years for heat and drought all occurring in the last decade, it looks increasing like this represents a disturbing trend that is here to stay.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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1 comment:

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