2006 Marked by Heat Waves, Drought, and Wildfires
January 4, 2007 -- 2006 was the third warmest year in America on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Widespread drought and unusually warm temperatures contributed to the record levels of wildfire that spread throughout the country, burning more than 9.5 million acres.
Globally, 2006 was the sixth warmest year on record. Canada experienced its warmest winter and spring. Including 2006, six of the seven warmest years have occurred since 2001 and the10 warmest years have occurred since 1995. The extent of Arctic sea ice was also the second lowest on record last year.
Several National Research Council reports deal with climate and weather. Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions sums up the current scientific understanding of climate change by characterizing the global warming trend over the last 100 years, and examining what may be in store for the 21st century and the extent to which warming may be attributable to human activity. According to Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years, there is also sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other "proxies" of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the preceding 400 years.
Communicating Uncertainties in Weather and Climate Information explores how best to communicate weather and climate information in five case studies, selected to illustrate a range of time scales and issues, from forecasting weather events to providing seasonal outlooks to projecting climate change. Improving the Effectiveness of U.S. Climate Modeling discusses how climate variability and change impacts society and why dealing with climate-related disasters requires the best possible information. The report offers a number of ways to enhance the effectiveness of climate modeling. Making Climate Forecasts Matter identifies research directions toward more useful seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasts and examines how we can use forecasting to better manage the consequences of climate change.