US 2012 heat record 'partly due to climate change'

Corn plants struggle to survive in a drought-stricken farm field  near Oakton, Indiana 19 July 2012 A widespread drought lasted several months and hit almost two-thirds of the country

Related Stories

The US sweltered under its hottest year on record in 2012, breaking the previous yearly average by 0.6C (1F), the US government has said.

Last year the average US temperature was 13C (55.3F) amid widespread drought and a mild winter.

Scientists said the heat was caused both by global warming and by natural weather variation.

But they said the size of the increase over the previous record year, 1998, was unprecedented.

"These records do not occur like this in an unchanging climate," Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said. "And they are costing many billions of dollars."

The governor of Illinois examines the ravages of the drought

In 2012, 11 weather-related disasters caused at least $1bn (£623m) in damage, including "superstorm" Sandy and a months-long drought that hit almost two-thirds of the country, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The drought - the worst in the US since the 1950s - contributed to higher temperatures. Without enough moisture in the soil to evaporate into rainfall, air becomes hotter and dryer.

US temperature records go back to 1895 and are now based on reports from more than 1,200 weather stations across the contiguous 48 states.

Last year was 1.7C (3.2F) warmer than the average for the entire 20th Century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. July broke the record for hottest month.

Nineteen states set yearly heat records in 2012. Alaska, however, was cooler than average.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain


  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'


  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?


  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets

Programmes

  • European Union's anti-terrorism chief Gilles de KerchoveHARDtalk Watch

    Anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove on the threat from returning Islamic State fighters

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.