Global warming in America: Arizona’s heating up the fastest, Florida the slowest

at 11:00 AM ET, 06/13/2012

In the last 100 years, the continental United States has warmed about 1.3°F overall. But not every state has been affected the same way. Some have been warming much faster than others. A new report from Climate Central takes a finer-grained look at some of the variations.

Here’s a map of state-by-state temperature increases since the 1970s — a period when the pace of warming began accelerating dramatically. (The average for the lower 48 states was 0.435°F per decade, with some states experiencing more warming than that and some states less.)

As the report notes, this post-1970s period coincides “with the time when the effect of greenhouse gases began to overwhelm the other natural and human influences on climate at the global and continental scales.” But there are still some lesser factors that may explain differences between states. “Natural variability explains some of the differences,” the report notes, “and air pollution with fine aerosols screening incoming solar radiation could also be a factor.”

Here are the 10 fastest-warming states since 1970:

1 Arizona (0.639°F per decade)
2 Michigan (0.622°F)
3 Minnesota (0.620°F)
4 Wisconsin (0.616°F)
5 Vermont (0.607°F)
6 New Mexico (0.603°F)
7 Utah (0.588°F)
8 Maine (0.587°F)
9 Texas (0.575°F)
10 Massachusetts (0.568°F)

And here are the 10 slowest-warming states in that time:

39 Missouri (0.318°F)
40 Washington (0.318°F)
41 California (0.314°F)
42 Iowa (0.310°F)
43 Georgia (0.307°F)
44 South Carolina (0.292°F)
45 Oregon (0.277°F)
46 Alabama (0.275°F)
47 Nebraska (0.268°F)
48 Florida (0.246°F)

Note that there doesn’t appear to be a strong relationship between the pace of warming and a state’s willingness to tackle carbon emissions. California has the most extensive climate law on the books — it’s even setting up a cap-and-trade system — but Californians have also experienced less warming in recent decades than states like Texas or Arizona that do not.

P.S. It’s worth noting that the continental United States is a very small part of the overall globe — covering just 2 percent of the Earth’s surface. So while this might be of interest, it’s not the full story on climate change in the past century. You can get a much more complete picture from NASA’s maps here.

Related: Over at Capital Weather, Jason Samenow has more on the study, including a closer look at trends in Maryland and Virginia.

 
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