Interior Releases Study of Carbon Storage and Sequestration in Western Ecosystems as Part of National Assessment
Natural carbon storage by forests, grasslands, wetlands helps counter effects of nation’s carbon emissions; Study finds western U.S. sequesters nearly one and half times as much carbon as Great Plains
WASHINGTON, DC—Forests, grasslands and shrublands and other ecosystems in the West sequester nearly 100 million tons (90.9 million metric tons) of carbon each year, according to a Department of the Interior report released today. Carbon that is absorbed or “sequestered” through natural processes reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The 100 million tons sequestered in western ecosystems is an amount equivalent to – and counterbalances the emissions of – more than 83 million passenger cars a year in the United States, or nearly 5 percent of EPA’s 2010 estimate of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
“This important study confirms the major role that our natural landscapes have in absorbing carbon and helping to counter-balance the nation’s carbon emissions,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes. “This kind of groundbreaking science not only will help us be more effective stewards of our lands, but it also helps reveal how our forests, wetlands and rangelands in the West – and throughout the nation – are positively impacting the carbon cycle.”
The report, authored by U.S. Geological Survey scientists, is part of a congressionally mandated national assessment of carbon storage and sequestration capacities by ecosystems. This assessment estimates the ability of different ecosystems in the West to store carbon — information that will be vital for science-based land-use and land-management decisions. The first report, on the Great Plains, was released in December 2011; reports on the eastern United States, Alaska, and Hawaii will follow.
The area studied extends from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coastal waters, and totals just over 1 million square miles. It includes well-known ecosystems, such as the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, the Pacific Northwest forests and the vast grasslands and shrublands of the Great Basin. The study’s results point out that, among their many other ecosystem services, these lands are immensely valuable because of their ability to store carbon.
“This report contains 12 original chapters of new science that will enable land managers to track and calculate carbon storage and greenhouse gas fluxes over time for the American West’s varied ecosystems,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “With more than 300 references of the latest work relevant to how biological systems cycle carbon, this report is a scientific tour de force.”
The fine level of detail in the report means that decision-makers can examine their region of interest, whether that is a national park, an ecosystem or an entire state. For example, the data in the report allow resource managers to evaluate effects of land-management practices on carbon storage and sequestration in and near Yellowstone and other national parks. It also could be used to understand how the rate of carbon sequestration increases as forests regrow following a large wildfire.
The major ecosystems USGS evaluated were terrestrial – forests, wetlands, agricultural lands, and shrublands and grasslands – and aquatic – rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters.
Terrestrial ecosystems accounted for more than 95 percent of the estimated total carbon sequestered between 2001 and 2005 in the West. Although the ecosystems varied widely in their potential for storing carbon now and in the future, the study found that forests are by far the largest carbon-storing pools, accounting for about 70 percent of the carbon stored in the West. Forests occupy 28 percent of the land in the West, contain the most carbon per unit area, and have the second-highest rate of sequestration of ecosystem types. Wetlands had the highest rate of sequestration of all ecosystem types, but because they cover less than 1 percent of the West, the amount of carbon they sequester is far less significant from a regional perspective.
Grasslands and shrublands also store a lot of the West’s carbon: this land type covers nearly 60 percent of the West and contains 23 percent of the region’s carbon stored between 2001 and 2005. Agricultural lands, which comprise about 6 percent of the West, contain 4.5 percent of the carbon stored during the same period.
Although the ecosystems of the West serve as a strong carbon sink now, the study estimates that by 2050 the region could experience a decline of the storage potential, depending on future changes in land-use, climate and wildfires. Future carbon stocks, the USGS authors noted, will be inextricably linked to these drivers because as ecosystems, forests or agricultural lands are converted for other uses, their ability to capture and store carbon is affected.
Other major findings of the report included:
- Wildland fires generated significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in the West, with such emissions equivalent to 13 percent of the estimated rate of the recent annual carbon sequestration by terrestrial ecosystems in the West. This amount could increase to up to 31 percent in the future.
- Water bodies in the western United States emitted even more CO2 than fires. Emissions from water bodies are equivalent to more than 30 percent of the recent annual carbon sequestration rate of terrestrial ecosystems in the West.
- Land-use and land-cover change will continue in the future, but the USGS authors projected a much slower rate of change on an annual basis over the next 45 years than occurred between 1992 and 2005. Such change, one of the primary drivers of regional climate change and the ability of ecosystems to sequester carbon, is mostly the result of demands for forest products, urban development and agriculture.
- The West sequesters nearly one and a half times as much carbon as the Great Plains, the focus of the first DOI carbon sequestration report.
National Carbon Sequestration Assessment
The report, Baseline and Projected Carbon Storage and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in the Ecosystems of the Western United States, was congressionally mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. It was peer-reviewed by some of the top USGS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and university scientists in the country on carbon cycling, land use, land cover and wildland fires.
The western report is the second in a series of reports produced by USGS for a national assessment of carbon storage and flux, and fluxes of other greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide).
The national assessment is the first scientific effort to include carbon storage and flux for all ecosystems, whether terrestrial or aquatic. The authors noted that the report’s estimates contain a large degree of uncertainty from sources such as input data quality and scarcity, assumptions made for the assessment, inherent biases in simulation models and overlaps between ecosystems, as well as ecological processes. Investigating multiple scenarios of future landscape change was one method used to examine some of these uncertainties.
The report is available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1797/.
CORVALLIS, Ore.— Resource managers now have a user-friendly tool to estimate wildlife fatalities at wind-power facilities, thanks to software and a user’s guide released today by the U.S. Geological Survey. The software combines counts of animal carcasses and detection-rate information to estimate the number of fatalities and to provide measures of uncertainty of these estimates to help managers address concerns about the potential environmental effects of this rapidly expanding industry.
Bird and bat fatalities at some wind-power facilities have led to recommendations and sometimes requirements from state and federal regulators that facility managers monitor wildlife fatalities as a condition for facility development and operation. Usually this monitoring involves searching for carcasses beneath and near turbines.
Unfortunately, simple counts of dead animals do not reflect actual fatality because carcasses are detected at varying rates. Carcasses may be removed by scavenging animals before monitors are able to include them in count information. Some species are inherently easier to detect than others; for example, an eagle is much easier to find than is a hummingbird. Furthermore, carcasses can be obscured by vegetation or fall in steep terrain that is difficult or impossible to search.
In 2010, USGS scientist Manuela Huso published an approach to estimating fatality that accounts for variable detection rates among carcasses. The tool being released today, that Huso and collaborators Nick Som and Lew Ladd of EcoStats, LLC subsequently developed, provides a bridge between the highly technical details of her original publication to the needs of consultants and field managers conducting wildlife monitoring.
“Accurate and unbiased estimates are critical to our understanding of the effects of wind-power facilities on wildlife,” Huso said. “They are necessary to compare techniques currently available to managers to reduce fatalities, to assess cumulative effects on wildlife populations, and to develop predictions of potential fatality prior to a facility’s construction. Even more important are measures of the uncertainty associated with estimates of fatality, which this software also provides.”
This software has its limitations, however. A different set of statistical tools is needed to evaluate fatality of a particular species for which few individuals are expected to be killed but for which accurate estimates of fatality are critical, e.g. rare or endangered species. Huso said the USGS is working to develop these tools as well. Once these tools are available USGS will release them to the public.
The publication is Huso, M.M., Som, N., Ladd, L., 2012, Fatality Estimator User’s Guide: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 729.
Plant and animal species are shifting their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events – such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating – at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago, according to a technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems used as scientific input for the 2013 Third National Climate Assessment.
The report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services, synthesizes the scientific understanding of the way climate change is affecting ecosystems, ecosystem services and the diversity of species, as well as what strategies might be used by natural resource practitioners to decrease current and future risks. More than 60 federal, academic and other scientists, including the lead authors from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Wildlife Federation and Arizona State University in Tempe, authored the assessment.
“These geographic range and timing changes are causing cascading effects that extend through ecosystems, bringing together species that haven’t previously interacted and creating mismatches between animals and their food sources,” said Nancy Grimm, a scientist at ASU and a lead author of the report.
Grimm explained that such mismatches in the availability and timing of natural resources can influence species’ survival; for example, if insects emerge well before the arrival of migrating birds that rely on them for food, it can adversely affect bird populations. Earlier thaw and shorter winters can extend growing seasons for insect pests such as bark beetles, having devastating consequences for the way ecosystems are structured and function. This can substantially alter the benefits people derive from ecosystems, such as clean water, wood products and food.
“The impact of climate change on ecosystems has important implications for people and communities,” said Amanda Staudt, a NWF climate scientist and a lead author on the report. “Shifting climate conditions are affecting valuable ecosystem services, such as the role that coastal habitats play in dampening storm surge or the ability of our forests to provide timber and help filter our drinking water.”
Another key finding is the mounting evidence that population declines and increased extinction risks for some plant and animal species can be directly attributed to climate change. The most vulnerable species are those already degraded by other human-caused stressors such as pollution or exploitation, unable to shift their geographic range or timing of key life events, or that have narrow environmental or ecological tolerance. For example, species that must live at high altitudes or live in cold water with a narrow temperature range, such as salmon, face an even greater risk due to climate change.
“The report clearly indicates that as climate change continues to impact ecological systems, a net loss of global species’ diversity, as well as major shifts in the provision of ecosystem services, are quite likely,” said Michelle Staudinger, a lead author of the report and a USGS and University of Missouri scientist.
For example, she added, climate change is already causing shifts in the abundance and geographic range of economically important marine fish. “These changes will almost certainly continue, resulting in some local fisheries declining or disappearing while others may grow and become more valuable if fishing communities can find socially and economically viable ways to adapt to these changes.”
Natural resource managers are already contending with what climate change means for the way they approach conservation. For example, the report stated, land managers are now more focused on the connectivity of protected habitats, which can improve a species’ ability to shift its geographic range to follow optimal conditions for survival.
“The conservation community is grappling with how we manage our natural resources in the face of climate change, so that we can help our ecosystems to continue meeting the needs of both people and wildlife,” said Bruce Stein, a lead author of the report and director of climate adaptation at the National Wildlife Federation.
Other key findings of the report include:
Changes in precipitation and extreme weather events can overwhelm the ability of natural systems to reduce or prevent harm to people from these events. For example, more frequent heavy rainfall events increase the movement of nutrients and pollutants to downstream ecosystems, likely resulting not only in ecosystem change, but also in adverse changes in the quality of drinking water and a greater risk of waterborne-disease outbreaks.
Changes in winter have big and surprising effects on ecosystems and their services. Changes in soil freezing, snow cover and air temperature affect the ability of ecosystems to store carbon, which, in turn, influences agricultural and forest production. Seasonally snow-covered regions are especially susceptible to climate change because small precipitation or temperature shifts can cause large ecosystem changes. Longer growing seasons and warmer winters are already increasing the likelihood of pest outbreaks, leading to tree mortality and more intense, extensive fires. Decreased or unreliable snowfall for winter sports and recreation will likely cause high future economic losses.
The ecosystem services provided by coastal habitats are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and more severe storms. The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are most vulnerable to the loss of coastal protection services provided by wetlands and coral reefs. Along the Pacific coast, long-term dune erosion caused by increasing wave heights is projected to cause problems for communities and for recreational beach activities. However, other kinds of recreation will probably improve due to better weather, with the net effect being that visitors and tourism dollars will shift away from some communities in favor of others.
Climate change adaptation strategies are vital for the conservation of diverse species and effective natural resource policy and management. As more adaptive management approaches are developed, resource managers can enhance the country’s ability to respond to the impacts of climate change through forward-looking and climate science-informed goals and actions.
Ecological monitoring needs to be improved and better coordinated among federal and state agencies to ensure the impacts of climate change are adequately monitored and to support ecological research, management, assessment and policy. Existing tracking networks in the United States will need to improve coverage through time and in geographic area to detect and track climate-induced shifts in ecosystems and species.
LANSING – Pure Michigan announced today Sean Chess, of Coldwater, is the winner of the Pure Michigan Moments Photo Contest. Chess’ photo of the St. Joseph North Pier Lighthouse in St. Joseph, Mich. will be featured in the 2013 Pure Michigan Travel Guide.
“Sean’s photo represents the natural beauty and incredible destinations Michigan has to offer and was one of the clear fan favorites in this contest,” said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We received a tremendous response to this contest across our social networks from folks eager to share some really great photos and even better memories made right here in Pure Michigan.”
The winning photo will be published in the 2013 spring/summer Pure Michigan Travel Guide. One million copies of the guide will be printed, with 650,000 copies being distributed with the March/April issue of Midwest Living magazine.
More than 3,300 photos were submitted to Pure Michigan through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the contest with 54,384 votes being cast in total. Photos ranged from sweeping landscapes to family portraits and featured scenes and destinations from all across Michigan.
“My brother and sister and I would always check out lighthouses with my dad, who recently passed away,” Chess said. “This year, we decided to explore the shore of Lake Michigan and ended up at the St. Joseph Lighthouse. When I was looking out on the vast coast of Lake Michigan, I felt it was truly an honor to be standing there. It’s like the setting was made for me to take that picture.”
Pure Michigan continues to be one of the top-ranked state tourism agencies, most recently receiving a 2012 Mercury Award for top social media presence by the U.S. Travel Association and the National Council of State Tourism Directors. The campaign has seen incredible growth in newer platforms such as Instagram and Google+ and continues to have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter with 450,000 fans and 40,000 followers respectively.
Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, markets the state’s tourism industry and provides valuable visitor information services. For Michigan travel news and updates, go to michigan.org.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead agency for business, talent and jobs, with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy. For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit: MichiganAdvantage.org.
Source: Press Release
Grants for trees and clean water go to projects in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, Indiana
WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2012 –The U.S. Forest Service announced today nearly $3 million in grants to improve tree canopy, forest cover and ultimately, water quality in six Great Lakes states, including Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois and Indiana.
The grants are part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a cooperative effort between federal, tribal, state and local partners. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will improve the environmental health and economic vitality of the world’s largest freshwater system,” said USDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman. “The Forest Service, together with our partners, is working to improve America’s treasured landscapes in more than 7,000 communities across the country.”
The U.S. EPA-funded grants administered by the Forest Service will support community forestry efforts to improve the interception, evaporation, infiltration and storage of rainfall and storm water.
“Healthy forests and lands support healthy waters,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “These projects will put people to work increasing the number of trees, turning polluted industrial sites into beautiful parkland and improving habitat for wildlife.”
A task force of 11 federal agencies is cleaning up toxins and areas of concern, combating invasive species, promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off and restoring wetlands and other habitats.
The awardees are:
- $50,000 – The Maumee River Urban Tree Canopy Restoration Project
Toledo Area MetroParks, in partnership with the City of Toledo and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, will plant 250 trees for wildlife habitat and erosion control along the Maumee River, on 37.5 acres of land formerly used for industrial purposes.
- $250,000 – Lower Black River Heron Rookery Restoration Project
The City of Lorain will plant 500 native trees and other vegetation to restore tree cover and improve fish and wildlife habitat on four acres of industrial wasteland adjacent to an active heron rookery.
- $250,000 – Phytoremediation of the Maumee River Watershed Project
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will work with the City of Toledo and University of Toledo to remediate 32 acres of old industrial sites, including the planting of 145 trees and the installation of 12 rain gardens and bioswales along the Maumee River.
- $50,000 – The Detroit Green Connections Project
The Greening of Detroit will employ 10 young adults to plant 600 trees and supervise the planting of another 4,200 trees over a two year period, to reduce and slow stormwater runoff in the Detroit and Rouge River Watersheds.
- $250,000 – The Detroit Reforestation Initiative
The Greening of Detroit will plant and maintain more than 1,400 trees in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck communities that have lost 100 percent of their ash tree population to the emerald ash borer infestation.
- $70,000 – The Grand River Ash Tree Protection and Restoration Initiative
The Friends of Grand Rapids Parks will plant 500 trees in public parks along the Grand River. The trees will maintain riparian buffers and tree canopy cover that will minimize the impact of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer.
- $132,274 – The Tree Canopy Restoration on Sault Tribe Lands
The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians will restore 244 acres of trees lost to emerald ash borer along the Manistique and St. Mary’s Rivers in
- $250,000 – The Greening of Chevy in the Hole project
The City of Flint will plant an additional 1,200 trees on 12 acres of post-industrial land abutting the Flint River, to manage stormwater on site and contribute to the uptake and degradation of toxic substances.
- $197,437 – Reducing Contamination using Hybrid Poplar in Lake Michigan Watersheds
The Delta Institute will establish and monitor the economic and environmental benefits of hybrid poplar tree farms, with the planting of more than 3,600 trees on one or more brownfield sites totaling five acres in multiple lower peninsula sites around Lake Michigan.
- $48,399 – First Downs for Trees
This unique partnership between the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Oneida Nation, and the communities of Brown County will result in planting more than 1,300 trees to intercept and slow millions of gallons of annual stormwater runoff over the coming years.
- $163,907 – Chequamegon Bay Shoreland Restoration
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will work with the City of Ashland to monitor and report on the ecosystem benefits of planting 240 native trees and other vegetation to mitigate the impacts of an expanded US Hwy 2.
- $77,958 – Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation Project
The town of Greece will plant 200 trees to replace those lost to emerald ash borer and to slow stormwater runoff into Lake Ontario.
- $250,000 – Mayors Mitigating Emerald Ash Borer Impacts in the Chicago Region
The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus will fund Great Lakes communities in Cook and Lake Counties that will restore close to 1,600 trees to the basin.
- $250,000 – Waukegan Harbor Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation Program
The Delta Institute will work with communities along the Dead River and the Waukegan River to develop plans and restore 500 trees that will improve the overall quality and health of the Waukegan Harbor.
- $190,236 – Grand Calumet Big Marsh Wetland Phytoremediation
The Chicago Park District will plant 5,000 native trees and other vegetation and monitor the ability of these plants to remediate contaminated soils, sediments, and water to help restore the wetland functionality of the Big Marsh.
- $100,200 – The Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation Program
The City of Goshen will plant 500 trees to replace tree canopy coverage lost to Emerald Ash Borer along the Elkhart River.
The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.
PHILADELPHIA (October, 2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order to FMC Corp., requiring the Philadelphia-based company to immediately stop the sale and distribution of three pesticide products: Microbemax™ Volumetric Drain Foam, Microbemax™ Continuous Cleaning System, and Microbemax™ Starter Kit.
EPA cited FMC for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), a federal law requiring the registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, and the proper labeling of pesticides. FIFRA’s requirements protect public health and the environment by ensuring the safe production, handling and application of pesticides; and by preventing false, misleading, or unverifiable product claims. FIFRA also prohibits the marketing of misbranded, improperly labeled, or adulterated pesticides.
EPA alleged that FMC made pesticidal claims for these products, and violated FIFRA registration and labeling requirements. EPA’s order requires the company to immediately stop the sale, use, removal, or distribution of these unregistered products. For more information about EPA’s pesticide program, visit http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/.
In a consent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Maryland Air National Guard (MDANG), 175th Wing, has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its facility at 2701 Eastern Blvd., Baltimore, Md.
EPA cited MDANG for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
The consent agreement resolves alleged violations discovered in an April 2011 inspection of the facility. According to EPA, MDANG stored hazardous waste for more than 90 days without a RCRA hazardous waste permit or interim status, failed to provide annual hazardous waste training to some of its employees for a three-year period, and violated RCRA rules on labeling and recordkeeping. The wastes involved in these alleged violations include lubricants, paints, sealants, cleaning solutions and adhesive wastes. These wastes are hazardous because they exhibited the characteristics of being ignitable, corrosive or toxic due to chromium, methyl ethyl ketone or other compounds.
The settlement penalty reflects the MDANG’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA in the resolution of this matter.As part of the settlement, MDANG has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
For more information about hazardous waste and RCRA, visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/index.htm.
The Average Combined Global Land and Ocean Surface Temperature for September 2012 Warmest September on Record
- The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for September 2012 tied with 2005 as the warmest September on record, at 0.67°C (1.21°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F). Records began in 1880.
- The globally-averaged land surface temperature for September 2012 was the third warmest September on record, at 1.02°C (1.84°F) above average. The globally-averaged ocean surface temperature tied with 1997 as the second warmest September on record, at 0.54°C (0.97°F) above average.
- The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January–September 2012 was the eighth warmest such period on record, at 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average.
Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC’s Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The September 2012 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps on the right provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.
In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth’s surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the September 2012 map—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.
Did You Know?
Global Temperature Percentile Maps
Global anomaly maps are an essential tool when describing the current state of the climate across the globe. Temperature anomaly maps tell us whether the temperature observed for a specific place and time period (for example, month, season, or year) was warmer or cooler than a reference value, which is usually a 30-year average, and by how much.
The August 2012 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.
In order to place the month, season, or year into historical perspective, each grid point’s temperature values for the time period of interest (for example all August values from 1880 to 2012) are sorted from warmest to coolest, with ranks assigned to each value. The numeric rank represents the position of that particular value throughout the historical record. The length of record increases with each year. It is important to note that each grid point’s period of record may vary, but all grid points displayed in the map have a minimum of 80 years of data. For the global temperature anomaly record, the data does extend back to 1880. But not all grid points have data from 1880 to present. Considering a grid point with a period of record of 133 years, a value of “1″ in the temperature record refers to record warmest, while a value of “133″ refers to record coldest.
The Warmer than Average, Near Average, and Cooler than Average shadings on the temperature percentile maps represent the bottom, middle, and upper tercile (or three equal portions) of the sorted values or distribution, respectively. Much Warmer than Average and Much Cooler than Average, refer to the lowest and uppermost decile (top or bottom 10 percent) of the distribution, respectively. For a 133-year period, Warmer than Average (Cooler than Average) would represent one of the 44 warmest (coolest) such periods on record. However, if the value ranked among the 13 warmest (coolest) on record, that value would be classified as Much Warmer than Average (Much Cooler than Average). Near Average would represent an average temperature value that was in the middle third (rank of 45 to 89) on record.
The average global temperature across land and ocean surfaces during September was 0.67°C (1.21°F) above the long-term 20th century average. This temperature ties with 2005 as the record warmest September in the 133-year period of record. The Northern Hemisphere tied with 2009 as second warmest on record, behind 2005. The Southern Hemisphere also ranked second warmest on record, behind 1997. It was also the highest departure from average for any month in the Southern Hemisphere since May 2010.
The average global land surface temperature was the third highest for September on record, behind 2009 (highest) and 2005 (second highest), with widespread warmth around the globe. It was the third warmest September over land in the Northern Hemisphere and fourth warmest in the Southern Hemisphere. In the higher northern latitudes, parts of east central Russia observed record warmth, as did parts of Venezuela, French Guinea, and northern Brazil closer to the tropics. Nearly all of South America was much warmer than average as were western Australia and central to eastern Europe. Far eastern Russia, a few regions in southern Africa, and parts of China were cooler than average.
Select national information is highlighted below:
- Following the second warmest summer (June–August) for Hungary since national records began in 1900, monthly temperatures remained above average across the entire country during September, ranging from about 1.0°–3.5°C (1.8°–6.3°F) above the 1971–2000 average, according to the country’s national meteorological service, Országos Meteorológiai Szolgálat.
- Australia experienced its third warmest September since records began in 1950, with the nationally-averaged maximum temperature 1.94°C (3.49°F) above the 1961–1990 average. The minimum temperature was also above average but not quite as extreme as the maximum, at 0.42°C (0.76°F) above the long-term average.
- According to Argentina’s national meterological service, Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, the monthly-averaged daily, maximum, and minimum temperatures were all above normal across Argentina, particularly in the central and northern regions of the country. Record high September minimum temperatures were observed across parts of the midwest.
- As indicated in the land and ocean temperature percentiles map above, Japan observed record warmth during September. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the greatest warmth was observed across northern Japan (regions of Hokkaido and Tohuko), which was 3.7°C (6.7°F) above average. It was below average across Okinawa, which had been impacted by Super Typhoons Sanba (middle of the month) and Jelawat (end of the month).
- With warm temperatures during the first half of the month transitioning to cooler temperatures brought about by a strong low pressure system, the average September temperature across the United Kingdom was 0.7°C (1.3°F) below the 1981–2010 average. This marks the coolest September for the region since 1994, according to the UK Met Ofiice.
The globally-averaged ocean temperature tied with 1997 as second highest for September, behind 2003, at 0.55°C (0.99°F) above the long-term average. This was also the highest departure from average for any month since May 2010. Much of the anomalous warmth was generated in the central western Pacific and the northeastern and equatorial North Atlantic Oceans, all of which observed record warmth in some areas. Most of the Indian Ocean was also warmer than average, with some record warmth observed off the southwestern Australian coast. Cooler-than-average temperatures were present in regions of the northeastern and southeastern Pacific Ocean. In the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, borderline ENSO-neutral / weak El Niño conditions were present as surface temperatures remained above average. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, these conditions are likely to continue throughout the Northern Hemisphere winter 2012/13, with possible strengthening to warm-phase El Niño conditions during the next few months. In addition to influencing seasonal climate outcomes in the United States, El Niño is often, but not always, associated with global temperatures that are higher than the general trend.
(out of 133 years)
|Land||+1.02 ± 0.25||+1.84 ± 0.45||3rd Warmest||Warmest: 2009||+1.06||+1.91|
|131st Coolest||Coolest: 1912||-0.79||-1.42|
|Ocean||+0.55 ± 0.04||+0.99 ± 0.07||2nd Warmest||Warmest: 2003||+0.58||+1.04|
|132nd Coolest||Coolest: 1912||-0.46||-0.83|
|Land and Ocean||+0.67 ± 0.11||+1.21 ± 0.20||1st Warmest||Warmest: 2005, 2012||+0.67||+1.21|
|133rd Coolest||Coolest: 1912||-0.55||-0.99|
|Land||+1.04 ± 0.26||+1.87 ± 0.47||3rd Warmest||Warmest: 2005||+1.18||+2.12|
|131st Coolest||Coolest: 1912||-0.93||-1.67|
|Ocean||+0.61 ± 0.04||+1.10 ± 0.07||4th Warmest||Warmest: 2003||+0.67||+1.21|
|130th Coolest||Coolest: 1912||-0.56||-1.01|
|Land and Ocean||+0.77 ± 0.15||+1.39 ± 0.27||2nd Warmest||Warmest: 2005||+0.83||+1.49|
|132nd Coolest||Coolest: 1912||-0.70||-1.26|
|Land||+0.97 ± 0.21||+1.75 ± 0.38||3rd Warmest||Warmest: 2007||+1.13||+2.03|
|131st Coolest||Coolest: 1894||-0.78||-1.40|
|Ocean||+0.51 ± 0.05||+0.92 ± 0.09||3rd Warmest||Warmest: 1997||+0.57||+1.03|
|131st Coolest||Coolest: 1911||-0.52||-0.94|
|Land and Ocean||+0.58 ± 0.09||+1.04 ± 0.16||2nd Warmest||Warmest: 1997||+0.66||+1.19|
|132nd Coolest||Coolest: 1911||-0.56||-1.01|
The year-to-date globally-averaged temperature anomaly across land and oceans combined has been steadily increasing since February as a cold phase La Niña (at least 0.5°C / 0.9°F below the 1981–2010 average) in the equatorial Pacific Ocean at the beginning of the year transitioned into ENSO-neutral conditions that bordered the threshold for warm El Niño conditions (at least 0.5°C / 0.9°F above average) by August. The global land and ocean temperature for the first nine months (January–September) of 2012 was 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average, ranking as the eighth warmest since records began in 1880. If this warmth continues through the end of the year, 2012 will surpass 2011 as the warmest La Niña year since the Climate Predition Center began monitoring ENSO conditions in 1950.
The January–September global land surface temperature ranked as the sixth warmest such period on record. In the Northern Hemisphere, where the majority of Earth’s land masses are located, the year-to-date temperature was the fourth warmest on record, largely attributed to monthly record warmth during April, May, June, and July. Across the globe, temperatures were much warmer than average across most of the Americas, southern and eastern Africa, southern and southeastern Asia, east central Russia, and most of central and eastern Europe. Record warmth was observed across the eastern two-thirds of the United States and south central Canada.
The global ocean temperature for the year-to-date was the 10th warmest such period on record, with much warmer than average temperatures present across much of the North Atlantic, Indian, and western Pacific oceans. Cooler-than-average temperatures spanned much of the northeastern and east central Pacific Ocean.
(out of 133 years)
|Land||+0.95 ± 0.22||+1.71 ± 0.40||6th Warmest||Warmest: 2007||+1.10||+1.98|
|128th Coolest||Coolest: 1893||-0.67||-1.21|
|Ocean||+0.43 ± 0.04||+0.77 ± 0.07||10th Warmest||Warmest: 1998||+0.56||+1.01|
|124th Coolest||Coolest: 1911||-0.49||-0.88|
|Land and Ocean||+0.57 ± 0.10||+1.03 ± 0.18||8th Warmest||Warmest: 1998, 2010||+0.68||+1.22|
|126th Coolest||Coolest: 1911||-0.50||-0.90|
|Land||+1.06 ± 0.27||+1.91 ± 0.49||4th Warmest||Warmest: 2007||+1.24||+2.23|
|130th Coolest||Coolest: 1884, 1893||-0.75||-1.35|
|Ocean||+0.44 ± 0.05||+0.79 ± 0.09||10th Warmest||Warmest: 2005, 2010||+0.56||+1.01|
|124th Coolest||Coolest: 1910, 1913||-0.48||-0.86|
|Land and Ocean||+0.67 ± 0.15||+1.21 ± 0.27||6th Warmest||Warmest: 2010||+0.77||+1.39|
|128th Coolest||Coolest: 1904, 1913||-0.51||-0.92|
|Land||+0.67 ± 0.14||+1.21 ± 0.25||8th Warmest||Warmest: 2005||+0.93||+1.67|
|126th Coolest||Coolest: 1917||-0.73||-1.31|
|Ocean||+0.44 ± 0.04||+0.79 ± 0.07||10th Warmest||Warmest: 1998||+0.58||+1.04|
|124th Coolest||Coolest: 1911||-0.52||-0.94|
|Ties: 1997, 2011|
|Land and Ocean||+0.48 ± 0.07||+0.86 ± 0.13||10th Warmest||Warmest: 1998||+0.64||+1.15|
|124th Coolest||Coolest: 1911||-0.54||-0.97|
The most current data September be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.
Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2012 from the weekly SST page.
The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during September 2012 varied significantly around the world.
Did You Know?
Global Precipitation Percentile Maps
Global anomaly maps are an essential tool when describing the current state of the climate across the globe. Precipitation anomaly maps tell us whether the precipitation observed for a specific place and time period (for example, month, season, or year) was drier or wetter than a reference value, which is usually a 30-year average, and by how much.
The August 2012 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps provide additional information by placing the precipitation anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.
In order to place the month, season, or year into historical perspective, each grid point’s precipitation values for the time period of interest (for example all August values from 1900 to 2012) are sorted from driest to wettest, with ranks assigned to each value. The numeric rank represents the position of that particular value throughout the historical record. The length of record increases with each year. It is important to note that each grid point’s period of record may vary, but all grid points displayed in the map have a minimum of 80 years of data. For example, considering a grid point with a period of record of 113 years, a value of “1″ in the precipitation record refers to record driest, while a value of “113″ refers to record wettest.
The Drier than Average, Near Average, and Wetter than Average shadings on the precipitation percentile maps represent the bottom, middle, and upper tercile (or three equal portions) of the sorted values or distribution, respectively. Much Drier than Average and Much Wetter than Average, refer to the lowest and uppermost decile (top or bottom 10 percent) of the distribution, respectively. For a 113-year period, Drier than Average (Wetter than Average) would represent one of the 38 driest (wettest) such periods on record. However, if the value ranked among the 11 driest (wettest) on record, that value would be classified as Much Drier than Average (Much Wetter than Average). Near Average would represent an average precipitation value that was in the middle third (rank of 39 to 75) on record.
- Seasonal rainfall in western and central Africa was unusually heavy during September, leading to flood conditions that stretched from Senegal eastward to Chad.
- The South Asian monsoon season in India starts around the beginning of June and lasts into October. The monsoon stalled over northwestern India before beginning its annual withdrawal, bringing excessive rainfall to most of the region during the month of September. The heavy rainfall brought seasonal precipitation totals to within the normal range and alleviated drought conditions for much, but not all, of the country. For this year’s monsoon period to date (1 June – 30 September), most provinces in India reported rainfall in the normal range (81–119 percent of average), with the exception of several provinces in the south and east and a few in the north that observed deficient rainfall (61–80 percent of average). For the period June–September, India as a whole experienced rainfall that was 92 percent of average, within the normal range, according to the India Meteorological Department.
- Several countries in eastern Europe, including Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Poland, experienced drought during September. It was one of worst droughts for Hungary in two decades.
- During mid-September, Super Typhoon Sanba—the year’s first category 5 storm among all tropical cyclone basins—brought locally heavy rainfall to Okinawa Island, Japan, parts of the Philippines, including the capital city of Manilla, and both North and South Korea. Super Typhoon Jelawat—the year’s second category 5 storm—also impacted part of the eastern Philippines and parts of Japan, including Okinawa and Tokyo.
Additional details on flooding and drought events around the world can also be found on the September 2012 Global Hazards page.
Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.
Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.
Smith, T.M., and R.W. Reynolds (2005), A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.
Smith, et al (2008), Improvements to NOAA’s Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.
Citing This ReportNOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for September 2012, published online October 2012, retrieved on October 15, 2012 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2012/9.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a groundbreaking bill, spearheaded by a campaign led by U.S. Marine Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, to establish medical care for the estimated 200,000 people who were exposed to cancer-causing contaminants in the water on a military base. Ensminger, whose daughter Janey died from leukemia after being exposed to water at Camp Lejeune, started a Change.org petition that rallied more than 135,000 people to support his efforts.
The Camp Lejeune crisis is widely referred to as the largest water contamination incident in American history, having spanned more than three decades and exposed as many as a million people to cancer-causing chemicals. Today’s vote follows an earlier Senate vote in July, where the bill was passed by unanimous consent.
“I have been waiting for this moment for fifteen years,” said Jerry Ensminger, who started the petition on Change.org. “I am thankful to every single one of the 135,000 people who signed my petition, and everyone who has supported this important campaign over the years.”
Ensminger’s petition called on the U.S. Congress to provide medical care for the families who were stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1957-1987, a 30-year period when water on the base was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The contamination at the base has been well-documented through the years, though Ensminger says the U.S. government has been slow to respond to calls for medical help for affected veterans and their families.
The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Obama in the coming weeks.
“I hope other communities who have suffered like the people of Camp Lejeune will be inspired by what we have accomplished,” said Ensminger. “It’s taken years of work to pass this historic bill, and I hope our time and effort will make it easier for others. I can’t bring my daughter back, but I am so proud that Janey’s name is on this bill to inspire others to work for justice.”
Ensminger has testified before Congress and is the subject of the award-winning documentary Semper Fi: Always Faithful. He also co-founded the organization The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten — an organization focused on connecting survivors of Camp Lejeune’s water contamination to each other.
Ensminger has said that he thinks the Marines assumed Camp Lejeune residents would move on and, if they became sick, wouldn’t realize that their health issues could be connected to the contaminated water. “They weren’t counting on one angry parent and the Internet,” he told Martha Waggoner of the Associated Press last week, referring to his Change.org petition and other online organizing efforts.
Journalists interested in setting up an interview should use the contact details at the top of the page.
Live signature total from Jerry Ensminger’s Change.org petition:
Source: Press Release Change.org