CIRES scientists contribute to international 2012 climate summary

Aug 6: The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has published the 2012 State of the Climate report, which provides a detailed update on global climate indicators and notable weather events. Seven scientists from CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, and many others from NOAA contributed to this year’s report, which documented 2012 ranking as one of the top 10 warmest years on record for the globe.

The report, compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries around the world, summarizes 2012 data representing diverse climatic and environmental indicators, such as:

  • Average and extreme temperatures
  • Precipitation levels and indications of drought
  • Sea-ice extent in the Arctic
  • Climate in Antarctica
  • Global cyclone activity
  • Levels of tropospheric ozone, an air pollutant

In 2012, global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production reached a record high, according to the new report. The previous report, by contrast, had documented a slight decline in global carbon dioxide emissions, reflecting the impact of the financial crisis. In 2012, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations also increased, to 392.6 parts per million (ppm); before the Industrial Revolution, they were 280 ppm. In spring 2012, for the first time, the atmospheric CO2 concentration exceeded 400 ppm at 7 of the 13 Arctic observation sites. CIRES researchers are involved in many aspects of NOAA’s long-term effort to monitor Earth’s atmosphere, helping to ship sample flasks around the world, analyze samples and evaluate trends.

Scientists at CIRES National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) helped to compile information on the Arctic for the 2012 report. The Arctic saw record low sea ice extent in September 2012, and the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in June also saw a record low. On July 11th and 12th, the Greenland ice sheet clocked a record melt event with 97 percent of the ice sheet showing some form of melt, four times greater than the average melt for this time of year. NSIDC provides scientific analysis on Arctic sea-ice conditions year round, making the data available to the global community. NSIDC scientists also provide daily information about surface melting on the Greenland ice sheet.

The 2012 edition of this peer-reviewed study is published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society today. CIRES contributors to the report are Geoff Dutton, Dale Hurst and Cathy Miller, who work at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory; Walt Meier and Ted Scambos from CIRES’ National Snow and Ice Data Center; and John Wahr, a past CIRES Fellow.

CIRES is a joint institute of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Ted Scambos, CIRES National Snow and Ice Data Center. Please contact him through NSIDC media:, 303-492-1497

Audio from the NOAA Media Call announcing key findings from the State of the Climate in 2012 report will be posted at this link later today: