The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report that shows that the first half of the year, was the warmest on record for the contiguous US (Lower 48 states). The average temperature was 52.9°F from January through June. The graph shows how 6 month average temperatures have changed since 1890, the red line shows the increasing temperature trend that has occurred over the last century. NOAA has also reported that 2011 was “record breaking year of climatic extremes” in the US with extreme precipitation, severe weather, and flooding.
Here in NJ, we’ve had the warmest spring on record in 2012, which also was rather dry. For more NJ info, click here. Looking back over the last year, although June was within normal range - month after month has been some of the warmest on record. And last August was the wettest month in New Jersey’s history! The hurricane and additional storms in August resulted in extensive flooding and damage in-land and in coastal areas as well as power outages. Again this year, there have been deadly, severe storms in the state.
While on a shorter scale, these recent trends are a concern given the longer term climate changes and global warming that are steadily occurring. Extreme weather events can take a toll on human communities, devastate environmental areas, and be very costly. In our region, more extreme weather and continued increases in precipitation are predicted as well as faster sea level rise.
The ocean responds to increases in temperature by also heating up which can impact ocean currents as well as marine life. Some shifts in fish species from cold water species (such as: lobster, winter flounder, Atlantic herring, ocean pout) to warm water species (such as: striped bass, weakfish, summer flounder, menhaden, scup) have been observed in many places, including Long Island Sound and near the entrance of Barnegat Bay. The water in the ocean also expands as it is heated which contributes to sea level rise both locally and globally.
Please do what you can to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by conserving energy, reducing fossil fuel use, making environmentally-friendly daily choices and supporting true clean and green energy policies!