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Blog Category: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

By a Wide Margin, 2012 was the United States’ Warmest Year on Record

Map of U.S. showing temperature anomoly

According to the latest statistics from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the average temperature for the contiguous United States for 2012 was 55.3° Fahrenheit, which was 3.2° Fahrenheit above the twentieth-century average and 1.0° Fahrenheit above the previous record from 1998. The year consisted of the fourth-warmest winter, a record-warm spring, the second-warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average autumn.

The map shows where the 2012 temperatures were different from the 1981–2010 average. Shades of red indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit warmer than average, and shades of blue indicate temperatures up to 8° Fahrenheit cooler than average—the darker the color, the larger the difference from average temperature. Full release  

Contiguous U.S. Warmer and Drier Than Average for November, Autumn

Map: Contiguous U.S. warmer and drier than average for November, autumn

Drought persists, causing water resource issues for central U.S.; 2012 virtually certain to become warmest year on record for the nation

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during November was 44.1°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, tying 2004 as the 20th warmest November on record. The autumn contiguous U.S. temperature of 54.7°F was the 21st warmest autumn, 1.1°F above average.

The November nationally-averaged precipitation total of 1.19 inches was 0.93 inch below the long-term average and the 8th driest November on record. The autumn precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 5.71 inches, 1.0 inch below average.

  •  November brought warmer-than-average conditions to the western half of the country. The largest temperature departures from average were centered near the Rockies where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming had November temperatures among their ten warmest.
  • The Eastern Seaboard, Ohio Valley, and Southeast were cooler than average during November. North Carolina tied its 10th coolest November on record, with a statewide-averaged temperature 3.5°F below average.
  • A large area of the country experienced below-average precipitation in November. Drier-than-average conditions stretched from the Intermountain West, through the Plains, into the Midwest, and along the entire East Coast. Twenty-two states had monthly precipitation totals ranking among their ten driest.
  • According to the November 27 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 62.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, larger than the 60.2 percent observed at the end of October. Drought conditions improved for parts of the Northern Rockies, which were wetter-than-average during November, while conditions worsened for parts of the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic.

Full release

NOAA: Arctic Continues to Break Records in 2012

Arctic iceberg

Becoming warmer, greener region with record losses of summer sea ice and late spring snow 

The Arctic region continued to break records in 2012—among them the loss of summer sea ice, spring snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This was true even though air temperatures in the Arctic were unremarkable relative to the last decade, according to a new report released today.

“The Arctic is changing in both predictable and unpredictable ways, so we must expect surprises,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, during a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. “The Arctic is an extremely sensitive part of the world and with the warming scientists have observed, we see the results with less snow and sea ice, greater ice sheet melt and changing vegetation.”

Lubchenco participated in a panel discussion that presented the annual update of the Arctic Report Card, which has, since 2006, summarized the quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. A record-breaking 141 authors from 15 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report.  Full NOAA release

NOAA: Busy 2012 Hurricane Season Continues Decades-long High Activity Era in the Atlantic

Satellite view of Superstorm Sandy, 10-29-12

Four U.S. land-falling storms include devastating Sandy and Isaac

November 30 marks the end of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season, one that produced 19 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes and one became a major hurricane. The number of named storms is well above the average of 12. The number of hurricanes is also above the average of six, but the number of major hurricanes is below the average of three. 

Based on the combined number, intensity, and duration of all tropical storms and hurricanes, NOAA classifies the season as above-normal. 2012 was an active year, but not exceptionally so as there were 10 busier years in the last three decades.

This season marks the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm. Sandy, and Irene last year, caused fatalities, injuries, and tremendous destruction from coastal storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and wind. Storms struck many parts of the country this year, including tropical storms Beryl and Debby in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana, and post-tropical Cyclone Sandy in New Jersey.  Full NOAA release   |  Animation: The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season in 4.5 Minutes (You Tube)

Spotlight on Commerce: Timi Vann, NOAA Regional Coordinator

Timi S. Vann

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog by Timi Vann, Western Regional Collaboration Coordinator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I serve as one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) eight regional coordinators. In this capacity, I am responsible for coordinating the collaborative activities of a 17-member team of scientists, engineers and program managers representing NOAA’s four service branches (Weather, Fisheries, Environmental Satellite, Data and information, and Ocean Services) and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research in the eleven state region of the Western United States. This team works together to exchange information, leverage resources, and collaborate to address priority regional issues and deliver improved science and services to regional stakeholders.

I was born and raised in Seattle, Wash., and I am Cherokee Indian, as is my husband. After undergraduate studies at The Evergreen State College and graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, I completed further coursework in satellite remote sensing, image processing, and physics from the University of New Orleans.  After college, I worked with the US Army at Fort Lewis as a cultural resources specialist working to support the military training mission through effective and efficient environmental compliance as it pertained to historic buildings and landscapes, historic and prehistoric archeological sites, traditional cultural properties, and tribal government relations. I then went on to a successful career at NASA working to develop "real world" applications of NASA's satellite data for environmental health tracking and disease surveillance. These experiences enabled me to successfully take on many new challenges at NOAA.

Acting Secretary Blank Visits New Jersey to Meet Business Owners Impacted by Sandy

Acting Secretary Blank and Acting Assistant Secretary Erskine survey a map of the Port of Newark

On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank traveled to New Jersey where she met with local business leaders for discussions about ongoing efforts to rebuild the region in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. During these conversations, she conveyed that the Commerce Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the administration are focused on providing businesses and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy with all available federal support. 

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, Acting Secretary Blank met with a group of businesses that were impacted by the storm. Dr. Blank then visited the Port of Newark in Port Newark, New Jersey, where she was briefed by officials on the status of port operations and the challenges moving forward. She heard from some of the port’s tenants, trucking companies, and freight mobility experts about the impact that the storm has had on their businesses, customers, and employees. Dr. Blank then took a tour of the port to observe the progress of recovery work that is currently underway. 

NOAA: U.S. Temperature and Precipitation in October Were Near Average

Map of U.S. showing significant areas of weather activity in October 2012

Sandy breaks records in East as severe drought continues in West, Great Plains

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9°F, 0.3°F below the long-term average. This ends a 16-month streak of above-average temperatures for the Lower 48 that began in June 2011.

The October nationally averaged precipitation total of 2.19 inches was slightly above the long-term average. The Northwest, Midwest, and Northeast were wetter than average, while below-average precipitation was observed across the Southern Rockies and the Central and Southern Plains. As of October 30, 60.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing drought conditions with the most severe conditions in the Great Plains. Full report

In Sandy's Aftermath: NOAA Operations Underway to Re-Open Shipping Lanes, Assess Coastal Damage

As the sun comes up in New York this morning, Ensign Lindsey Norman retrieves the side scan sonar that NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson used to survey the Hudson River, so fuel barge traffic could resume.

NOAA post-storm response operations are underway in the aftermath of Sandy. NOAA vessels are now conducting surveys to speed the re-opening of waterways and aircraft are flying missions to capture detailed imagery of coastal storm damage along affected portions of the U.S. East Coast. 

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey began mobilizing to respond to Hurricane Sandy before the storm reached U.S. waters by preparing vessels, personnel, and equipment to conduct hydrographic surveys of hard-hit areas to locate underwater debris and shoaling that can paralyze shipping at the nation’s ports.

The morning after the storm passed, teams began surveying waterways in Chesapeake Bay. By the morning of Nov. 1, eight NOAA vessels were involved in the effort, surveying waterways in New York, New Jersey, Chesapeake Bay, and Delaware Bay, where shipping had been halted.  

Spotlight on Commerce: Ana Valentin, Statistician, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service

Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Ana Valentin, Survey Statistician, Fisheries Statistics Division of the Office of Science and Technology, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

My dearest friend Albert Einstein said, "The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable receiving." Giving is the driver that motivated me to pursue a public service career.  My parents, who proudly retired from the Puerto Rico government, encouraged me to enter public service for our country. Being educated in the Puerto Rico public system and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor in Secondary Math Education and a Masters in Public Health in Biostatistics, I prized the significance of professional education in the workplace. Today, as a doctoral candidate in Information Assurance, I embrace how diversity presents innovative solutions for the challenges of our competitive world market.

My career started in academia, where I worked as a clinical researcher in a School of Medicine, and mathematics, statistics and computer science professor for undergraduate and graduate programs in public and private universities. My experience in academia led me to accept a position as a survey statistician at the Census Bureau, where I revised statistical and mathematical protocols and the translation of census materials written in Spanish to assure the Agency’s mission. Through the observation of Spanish field interviews, I valued the contribution of Hispanics population into United States’ economy.  Currently, I work for the NOAA Fisheries Service, where I manage a survey that produces catch-effort estimates of recreational fishing activities and help oversee the budget allocated for recreational and commercial survey operations. As a Hispanic woman, I cherished the importance of a diverse workforce to outreach growing minority populations in accountability of fishery stock assessment and management in the United States and its territories.

NIST Director Gallagher Participates in Dedication of New Facility for Coral Reef Research

The new NSU Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystem Research in Hollywood, Fla. (Photo: Nova Southeastern University)

Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Directory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Dr. Patrick Gallagher today is helping dedicate the new Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research (CoECRER) at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Hollywood, Florida.

Gallagher joins state and local officials, including Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and other guests, including former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Paul Sandifer, Senior Science Adviser to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in the opening celebration for the “only research facility in the nation dedicated entirely to coral reef ecosystems science.”

Among the unusual features of the festivities was a morning media tour, by snorkel, of one of the center’s off-shore coral “nurseries.”

The new research facility was funded in part by a $15 million grant from NIST as part of a competitive program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the construction of new scientific research facilities at academic institutions and non-profit research organizations. (See “NIST Awards $123 Million in Recovery Act Grants To Construct New Research Facilities,” Jan. 8, 2010).