Scorching temperatures in June’s second half helped the continental United States break its record for the hottest first six months in a calendar year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Monday.
The last 12 months also have been the warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1895, narrowly beating the previous 12-month period that ended in May 2012.
Every state except Washington in the contiguous United States had warmer-than-average temperatures for the June 2011-June 2012 period.
The recent blistering heat wave broke records across much of the United States, threatening the Midwest’s corn crop and helping to fan destructive wildfires.
June was 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) warmer in the lower 48 states than the 20th-century average, but still just the 14th hottest June in the record books, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center said in a statement.
Such record-high temperatures are in line with a long-term warming trend in the 48 contiguous states, said Jake Crouch, a scientist at the National Climatic Data Center.
Climate change spurred by carbon dioxide emissions may not be the primary cause, but these extreme conditions are consistent with what scientists see as a “new normal,” Crouch said by telephone.
“It’s hard to pinpoint climate change as the driving factor, but it appears that it is playing a role,” he said. “What’s going on for 2012 is exactly what we would expect from climate change.”