2007 in the contiguous United States is likely to take its place as the eighth warmest on record, about 1.5 degrees warmer than the 20th-century average, according to a preliminary analysis by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
"The year was marked by exceptional drought in the U.S. Southeast and the West, which helped fuel another extremely active wildfire season," as the official NOAA announcement put it. "The year also brought outbreaks of cold air, and killer heat waves and floods."
NOAA didn't explicitly link a warmer climate and the year's extreme weather events, but scientists have repeatedly predicted that global warming will spawn increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather, such as flooding, drought and strong storms. It did tie the increased warmth to energy use, noting that summer energy demand was 8% greater than expected during an average year, and winter energy use was 3% lower.
Meanwhile, the worldwide average surface temperature is on pace to rank as the fifth warmest since record-keeping began in 1880, with the greatest temperature anomalies recorded in eastern Europe and central Asia.
Some additional facts about global temperature:
Seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, and the 10 warmest have all occurred since 1997.
The global average surface temperature is up 0.7 degree (C) since 1900, and the rate of warming has tripled since 1976.
The greatest warming has taken place in high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Anomalous warmth in 2007 contributed to the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979, surpassing the previous record low set in 2005 by a remarkable 23 percent. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this is part of a continuing trend in end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent reductions of about 10% per decade since 1979.
Read more about the extreme weather of 2007 in the continental U.S.
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