Describing hotter temperatures and altered weather as the “new normal” under climate change has become cliché, and updated NOAA data makes it official. The U.S. is now hotter than it was just a decade ago, wetter in the central and eastern parts of the country, and drier in the West, according to NOAA data released Tuesday. “Almost every place in the U.S. has warmed from the 1981 to 2010 normal to the 1991 to 2020 normal,” said Michael Palecki, NOAA’s normals project manager. Extracting and burning fossil fuels is driving up temperatures globally, and in the U.S. by 1.7°F (0.9°C) since the first “normals” were calculated for 1901-1930.
Updating “normal” temperatures every 10 years worries some scientists, however, because it minimizes the drastic changes apparent in the long-term record. “It seems odd to still call them normals,” North Carolina state climatologist Kathie Dello told the AP, “because 1991-2020 was anything but normal climate-wise.” (AP, Washington Post $, The Hill, Earther, USA Today)