Another day, another alarming chunk of evidence that the planet is continuing to warm at a disturbing pace. The latest comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which released data today revealing that the continental U.S. just lived through the hottest March on record. Or, in a more internet-friendly colloquialism: Warmest. March. Ever.
Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. The average temperature of 51.1 degrees F was 8.6 degrees F above the 20th century average for MarchThe previous record holder was March, 1910. But wait, there's more! NOAA is also reporting that the "first three months of 2012 were also record warm for the contiguous United States with an average temperature of 42.0 degrees, which is 6.0 degrees above the long-term average."
Get that? The early winter months of 2012 were a full six degrees warmer, on average, than they're supposed to be—if they were in line with the 20th century average temps, they would have clocked in at 36˚F. So it turns out that the season widely labeled as 'the winter that wasn't', well, really wasn't.
Now, sure, one extreme aberration in weather norms is never proof that global climate change is to blame, and yada, yada, blah, blah. (As a reporter tackling climate issues I am contractually obligated to write such disclaimers—but I did not promise to do so snark-free). You know the drill.
But remember, 2010 was the hottest year on record. That was the year before last. And the scientific community is surer than ever that an ever-increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (according to the Earth Systems Lab, we're now at 394 parts per million) is driving the change.
In other words, we are now staring up the face of an Everest-esque mountain of scientific evidence that suggests human activity is the culprit behind the blue marble's warming climate. We are frequently breaking record temps we should not be breaking. Extreme weather phenomena continues to line up with climate scientists' models. Global warming is here, boys and girls. You just lived through three months of it.