Scorching U.S.: First Half of 2006 Sets Heat Record

The average temperatures of the first half of 2006 were the highest ever recorded for the continental United States, scientists announced today.

Temperatures for January through June were 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average.

Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri experienced record warmth for the period, while no state experienced cooler-than-average temperatures, reported scientists from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. [Heat Map]

Scientists have previously said that 2005 was the warmest year on record for the entire globe.

Last month the United States experienced the second warmest June since weather record keeping began in 1895.


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This warming coupled with less than average precipitation caused moderate to extreme droughts in almost 45 percent of the contiguous United States. However, some areas, such as the Northeast of the country experienced record rainfalls and severe floods.

Many experts believe that such weather anomalies are the result of global warming, an average increase in the Earth's atmospheric temperature caused at least in part by human activities.

Other studies reveal consequences of a warmer climate.

According to one study, the amount of land damaged by rising temperature-induced droughts more than doubled in the last 30 years. 

Meanwhile, dry conditioned have contributed to more than 50,000 wildfires in the first half of this year, an unusually high number. A study earlier this month suggests climate change has in recent years contributed to more wildfires in the Western United States.

Other studies suggest that warmer oceans and increased moisture could make for stronger hurricanes for many years to come.

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