Texas state climatologist: 2013 likely to be hottest year on record

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 11:13 EDT
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A sweaty, angry woman. Photo: Shutterstock.com.
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The top climate researcher for the State of Texas predicted Tuesday that 2013 will go down as the hottest year on record, setting yet another milestone in a disturbing trend of rapidly increasing average global temperatures over the last two decades.

In a post for Texas A&M’s AgriLife blog, Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon explained that while average global temperatures have been “relatively flat for the past several years,” it’s not because climate change has stopped as skeptics sometimes claim. Quite the contrary: it’s because the El Niño-La Niña cycle trended especially cold in 2010, making a strong impact on global climate.

Unfortunately, Nielsen-Gammon warned, that’s a temporary effect. “If you leave the refrigerator door open, the room will be a little cooler,” he said. “If my forecast is correct, and there’s no La Niña to hide the underlying warming trend, global surface temperatures are likely to increase and set a new record this year.”

For Texas, which censored all mentions of climate change in a 2011 report on the health of the Galveston Bay estuary, yet another year of record drought could be devastating. Nielsen-Gammon warned Texas lawmakers in February that the drought may be even more severe in some places during 2013, especially if there’s increased hurricane activity which can lead to less rainfall on land during the summer.

Considering that the 2011 drought cost Texas farmers an estimated $8 billion just in crop losses, Texas officials concerned about budgetary matters may want to start taking climate change more seriously.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) learned that the hard way when he cut volunteer fire department budgets by 75 percent in 2011, only to be forced to rely on the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the state experienced six of the 10 most destructive and costly wildfires in its history.

On the Republican presidential campaign trail that same year, even as his state was burning, Perry told a group of supporters that he thinks climate change is a myth perpetuated by “scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”

Data analyzed by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies shows that 13 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15 years.

Nielsen-Gammon did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo: Shutterstock.com.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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