And the first three months of 2012 were also the warmest first quarter in the contiguous United States, according to NOAA.
Figure 1: Temperature departures from the 30-year average of 1981-2010 on a climate division level. Source: NOAA, accessed on 9 April 2012.
For a fascinating video showing how the records were broken, over time, geographically, see this NOAA animation:
Animation from NOAA.
In March, at least 7,775 weather stations across the nation broke daily high temperature records and another 7,517 broke records for night-time heat. Combined, that’s more high temperature records broken in one month than ever before, Crouch said.
“When you look at what’s happened in March this year, it’s beyond unbelievable,” said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver.
NOAA climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi compared the increase in weather extremes to baseball players on steroids: You can’t say an individual homer is because of steroids, but they are hit more often and the long-held records for home runs fall.
RealClimate provides an explanation of how global climate change can, by inducing a spread-preserving mean shift, result in a higher probability of extreme events such as this March’s high temperature. WARNING: For those who do not believe in Classical statistics, DO NOT READ.
For those who do not believe in anthropogenic global warming, don’t worry. With vigorous enough purging (c.f. Ryan Plan), we can be rid of these troublesome atmospheric scientists (this is the “ignorance is bliss” approach). Also, no need for those geologists, as the market can step in to do the earthquake prediction.
For previous last year’s attempt to cut NOAA funding, see here (Republican proposals for FY2011).