Climate data show that 2012 has been the warmest year on record in both New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast so far, a trend that has implications for the global climate.
The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University reported Tuesday that the average temperature in the 12-state region was 49.9 degrees from January through July. That's the warmest seven-month period since 1895, when record-keeping began.
In New Jersey, meanwhile, July marks the 18th consecutive month with above-average temperatures.
“It’s not great if you owned a snow plowing business this past winter,” said David Robinson, the state climatologist and a Rutgers University professor. “Hopefully, you saved your money from the last few winters.”
Robinson said the unprecedented warmth of the past seven months is further evidence of global climate change. Eight of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1990, he said.
“We may be loading the dice so it’s easier to roll warm than cold when in the past it was a little more even,” he said.
While it’s impossible to point to any one weather event that could’ve been prevented by more responsible energy policy, Robinson said the cumulative effect is troubling.
A sudden October snowstorm caused significant damage to trees that were slow to shed their leaves. A cold snap in March endangered fruit crops that had bloomed two to three weeks early. Meanwhile, the climate has fluctuated between periods of drought and flooding.
“You can get yourself into drought problems quickly, but a warmer atmosphere can also cause heavy rain events,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, but you can have both.”
According to Cornell University’s analysis, the second-warmest comparable period in the Northeast was 1921, when the seven-month average was 49.2 degrees.
This year has also been the warmest New Jersey has seen since 1895, with an even higher average of 55.7 degrees, according to data compiled by the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist. July, meanwhile, was the fifth warmest month on record.
According to National Weather Service data, 2012’s average temperature recorded at Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township is 59.6 degrees, compared with the historic average of 54.1 degrees from 1981 to 2010.
Furthermore, all but one month this year — June — has registered above average at the weather station.
Seven of the top 10 warmest days on record at the airport weather station have taken place since 2005, according to the National Weather Service. One of those days, July 18, saw an average daily temperature of 88.5 degrees.
Staff Writer Jennifer Bogdan contributed to this report.
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