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Warm December – February

NOAA: Sixth Warmest February in Combined Global Surface Temperature, Fifth Warmest December-February

Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the sixth warmest February ever recorded. Additionally, the December 2009 – February 2010 period was the fifth warmest on record averaged for any similar three-month Northern Hemisphere winter-Southern Hemisphere summer season, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Based on records going back to 1880, the monthly NCDC analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to businesses, communities and governments so they may make informed decisions to safeguard their social and economic well-being.

Separately, the average global ocean surface temperature for both February and the December-February season was second warmest on record, behind 1998. The global land surface temperature for February 2010 tied with 1992 as the 14th warmest on record, while December-February period was the 13th warmest on record.

Global Highlights – February
•The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for February 2010 was the sixth warmest on record, at 1.08 degrees F (0.60 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 53.9 degrees F (12.1 degrees C).
•The global land surface temperature for February 2010 was 1.35 degrees F (0.75 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 37.8 degrees F (3.2 degrees C)—tying with 1992 as the 14th warmest February on record.
•Anomalously cool conditions were widespread across the contiguous United States, Mexico, Europe and Russia. Overall, the United Kingdom had its coolest February since 1991, and the Irish Republic, its coolest February since 1986.
•Warmer-than-average temperatures enveloped much of the rest of the world’s land areas, with the warmest temperature anomalies occurring across Alaska, Canada and across the Middle East and northern Africa.
•The February worldwide ocean temperature was the second warmest, behind 1998, on record. The temperature anomaly was 0.97 degrees F (0.54 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 60.6 degrees F (15.9 degrees C).
•A moderate-to-strong El Niño continued in February. Sea surface temperatures across parts of the equatorial Pacific Ocean were more than 2.7 degrees F (1.5 degrees C) above average during the month. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, El Niño is expected to continue at least through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010.
Global Highlights – December 2009 – February 2010
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for December-February was 54.8 degrees F (12.7 degrees C), which is the fifth warmest on record and 1.03 degrees F (0.57 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 53.8 degrees F (12.1 degrees C).
•The worldwide land surface temperature for December-February was 1.15 degrees F (0.64 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 37.8 degrees F (3.2 degrees C) – the 13th warmest on record. (Cool temperatures enveloped much of Europe, Russia, Mexico, central and southeastern contiguous U.S., southern Chile, southern Argentina and parts of northern Australia.)
•The United Kingdom had its coolest Northern Hemisphere winter since 1978-1979. The Irish Republic experienced its coolest winter since 1962-1963. Conversely, much of Australia was engulfed by warmer-than-average conditions. The warmth was concentrated in Western Australia, resulting in the warmest December-February period on record.
•The worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.97 degrees F (0.54 degrees C) above the 20th century average of 60.5 degrees F (15.8 degrees C) and the second warmest December-February on record, behind 1998.
Other Highlights
•Arctic sea ice covered an average of 5.6 million square miles (14.6 million square kilometers) during February. This is 6.8 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the fourth lowest February extent since records began in 1979. This was also the 12th consecutive February with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. February Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 2.9 percent per decade since 1979.
•Antarctic sea ice extent in February was 7.3 percent above the 1979-2000 average, resulting in the eighth largest February extent on record. February Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 3.1 percent per decade over the same period.
•Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during February was the third largest on record, behind 1978 and 1972. North American snow cover for February was also the third largest extent since satellite records began in 1967—behind 1978 and 1979. Northern Hemisphere December-February snow cover during December 2009 -February 2010 was the second largest extent, behind 1978. North American snow cover for December-February 2010 was the largest extent on record.
Scientists, researchers, and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly reports to help track trends and other changes in the world’s climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers with critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.

Background information on winter snowstorms in the United States and links to climate change is available online.

NOAA has also posted a Q & A feature regarding the monitoring stations that track these measurements.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the oceans to surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

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Impact of Sea Ice Loss

Melting sea ice may sound like a regional or local problem, but NOAA’s new Arctic Future Web site shows that changes in the Arctic can also influence weather in the mid-latitudes, where a large part of the global human population lives. These research efforts are part of the climate services that NOAA provides to businesses, communities and governments so they may make informed decisions to safeguard their social and economic well-being.

Aimed at everyone from students to researchers, the site brings together easy-to-understand cause-and-effect-graphics with links to the scientific literature that backs up the statements. It can be accessed at: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/future.

Among the site’s features:

Explanation of global weather and climate impacts from loss of summer sea ice
Exploration of key Arctic science and policy issues
Satellite measurements of Arctic sea ice loss
Frequently asked questions about the Arctic
“Pulling this information together on one Web site is a way to highlight the continuing loss of Arctic sea ice in summer and its broader implications for climate,” said James Overland, a NOAA oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory whose work appears on the new site. “For example, climate models show that changes in the Arctic can impact weather in the mid-latitudes including the United States, Europe and Asia.”

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

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Birds: Climate Change Threatens Hundreds of Species

AUSTIN, TX – Climate change threatens to further imperil hundreds of species of migratory birds, already under stress from habitat loss, invasive species and other environmental threats, a new report released today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar concludes.

The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change follows a comprehensive report issue released a year ago showing that that nearly a third of the nation’s 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline.

“For well over a century, migratory birds have faced stresses such as commercial hunting, loss of forests, the use of DDT and other pesticides, a loss of wetlands and other key habitat, the introduction of invasive species, and other impacts of human development,” Salazar said. “Now they are facing a new threat – climate change – that could dramatically alter their habitat and food supply and push many species towards extinction.”

The report, a collaboration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and experts from the nation’s leading conservation organizations, shows that climate changes will have an increasingly disruptive effect on bird species in all habitats, with oceanic and Hawaiian birds in greatest peril.

In releasing the report, Salazar cited the unprecedented efforts by the Obama Administration and the Department of the Interior to address climate change.

Last week in Anchorage, Alaska, for example, the Interior Department opened the first of eight new climate regional Climate Science Centers that will engage scientists from all of Interior’s Bureaus and our partners to research climate change impacts, work with land, natural, and cultural resource managers to design adaptation strategies, and engage the public through education initiatives.

The Climate Science Centers will help support a network of new “Landscape Conservation Cooperatives” that will engage federal agencies, tribal, state, and local governmental and non-governmental partners, and the public in crafting practical, landscape-level strategies for managing climate change impacts on land, natural, and cultural resources within the eight regions.

“Just as they did in 1962 when Rachel Carson published ‘Silent Spring,’ our migratory birds are sending us a message about the health of our planet,” Salazar said. “That is why – for the first time ever – the Department of the Interior has deployed a coordinated strategy to plan for and respond to the impacts of climate change on the resources we manage.”

Key findings from the “State of the Birds” climate change report include:

•Oceanic birds are among the most vulnerable species because they don’t raise many young each year; they face challenges from a rapidly changing marine ecosystem; and they nest on islands that may be flooded as sea levels rise. All 67 oceanic bird species, such as petrels and albatrosses, are among the most vulnerable birds on Earth to climate change.
•Hawaiian birds such as endangered species Puaiohi and ’Akiap?l?’au already face multiple threats and are increasingly challenged by mosquito-borne diseases and invasive species as climate change alters their native habitats.
•Birds in coastal, arctic/alpine, and grassland habitats, as well as those on Caribbean and other Pacific Islands show intermediate levels of vulnerability; most birds in aridlands, wetlands, and forests show relatively low vulnerability to climate change.
•For bird species that are already of conservation concern such as the golden-cheeked warbler, whooping crane, and spectacled eider, the added vulnerability to climate change may hasten declines or prevent recovery.
•The report identified common bird species such as the American oystercatcher, common nighthawk, and northern pintail that are likely to become species of conservation concern as a result of climate change.
“Birds are excellent indicators of the health of our environment, and right now they are telling us an important story about climate change,” said Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg, director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Many species of conservation concern will face heightened threats, giving us an increased sense of urgency to protect and conserve vital bird habitat.”

“All of the effective bird conservation efforts already taking place to protect rare species, conserve habitats, and remove threats need to be continued.” said David Mehlman of The Nature Conservancy

“Additionally, they need to be greatly expanded to meet the threat climate change poses to bird populations.”

“The dangers to these birds reflect risks to everything we value: our health, our finances, our quality of life and the stability of our natural world,” said Audubon’s Glenn Olson. “But if we can help the birds weather a changing climate, we can help ourselves.”

“While there is much to be concerned about in this report, we can reduce the impact of climate change by taking immediate action to reduce carbon emissions and find creative conservation solutions to help birds adapt to the changes that are already in process.” said David Pashley, vice president American Bird Conservancy.

The report offers solutions that illustrate how, by working together, organizations and individuals can have a demonstrable positive impact on birds in the U. S. Specifically, the report indicates that the way lands are managed can mitigate climate change and help birds adapt to changing conditions. For example, conserving carbon-rich forests and wetlands, and creating incentives to avoid deforestation can reduce emissions and provide invaluable wildlife habitat.

The report is the product of a collaborative effort as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, between federal and state wildlife agencies, and scientific and conservation organizations including partners from American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

To access the report on line and for more information visit www.stateofthebirds.org.

•Department of the Interior: Hugh Vickery, (202) 501-4633
•U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Alicia King, 703-358-2522/571-214-3117, Alicia_F_King@fws.gov
•American Bird Conservancy: Steve Holmer, 202-234-7181, sholmer@abcbirds.org
•Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Pat Leonard, 607-254-2137, pel27@cornell.edu
•National Audubon Society: Nancy Severance, 212-979-3124, nseverance@audubon.org
•The Nature Conservancy: Blythe Thomas, 703-841-8782, bthomas@tnc.org

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