Story at a glance
- The NOAA’s “New Normal” data reveals large swaths of the U.S. are seeing hotter temperatures and wetter conditions.
- Observing daily data from 1991 to 2020, the trends speak to the adverse impacts of climate change.
- While more precipitation gathers in the east, the U.S. South sees larger incidences of drought.
The Earth’s temperatures have a new normal, with data collected and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealing that U.S. weather patterns have grown warmer and wetter over the past 29 years.
Based on data collected throughout the U.S. over the course of 1991 to 2020, the majority of the U.S. regions saw increases in average temperatures across all four seasons.
The data consists of 30 years of observations across 15,000 individual climate centers that monitor different regions for changes in daily “normals,” or baseline indicators depicting daily weather changes within long-term patterns.
Some regions, specifically those in the Southwest, have seen temperature increases ranging from 1 to more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coinciding with this change were increases in precipitation. NOAA officials report that the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. were wetter than the prior examination period from 1981 to 2010. Major dry seasons were also observed over the time period.
Increased levels of precipitation have been connected to warming temperatures. As global temperatures rise, more water from oceans evaporates, which in turn jumpstarts increased condensation that eventually becomes rain or snow.
This leads to an increase in storms, as well as flooding in some areas at or below sea level. Further inland regions, alternatively, stand increased risks of droughts.
Earlier reports on climate normals collected and distributed from NOAA stations confirm that countrywide temperature yearly averages are warmer than 20th century averages in every region.
“Warming from 1981-2010 to 1991-2020 is widespread but not ubiquitous across the conterminous U.S., either in geographic space or time of year, with recent cooling in the north central U.S.,” a summary of the data read.
Fluctuations in both warm and cool temperatures, as well as dry and wet seasons, are both adverse effects of climate change.
NOAA data also reveals colder-than-average temperatures across portions of the Southern U.S., which can negatively affect the environment similarly to hotter temperatures.