Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Seventeen U.S. Cities on Track for Hottest Year

By Brian Kahn
Dec. 30, 2014

The globe is on track for its warmest year on record. But global average temperature watchers won't be the only ones feting record heat when the clock strikes midnight on Wednesday. A number of U.S. urban areas will also join in the record-setting festivities while not a single major urban area will be raising a glass to record cold. In fact, it's been nearly 30 years since a major U.S. city had a record cold year.


The heat in the western U.S. come courtesy of a big ridge of high pressure that's been in parked in place for a chunk of the year, trapping warm weather. That pattern has turbocharged California's drought and some research has tied the development and longevity of that ridge to climate change.


Not a single urban area in the U.S. experienced record cold, despite the cold air outbreaks that froze much of the East for the first few months of the year. Some metro areas, such Kansas City, Mo., and Fayetville, Ark., are headed for a top 10 coldest year, but most major cities east of the Mississippi had just cool or near-average temperatures.


And when it comes to global record coldest year, you'd have to go back even further. Way further in fact. It's been over a century since the world's coldest year on record with 1909 setting the record and 1911 tying it.

Going back to 1880 — the year recordkeeping began — the global average temperature has risen by 1.5°F. In the U.S., temperatures have risen about 2°F since 1895 with a large portion of that rise coming since 1970. That rise in temperatures has also helped increase the number of daily record highs set compared to record lows. If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the U.S. average temperature could climb up to another 10°F by the end of the 21st century.

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