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289. Announcement of the New U.S. Climate Normals

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With the new coronavirus pandemic affecting every aspect of our lives, the term “new normal” has become a popular topic in the news.

In meteorology, the new normal refers to a data set that is updated every 10 years based weather factors such as average temperature and rainfall over the past 30 years. These data sets allow for day-to-day climate-related decisions to be made in the proper context.

On May 4, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the release of the new U.S. Climate Normals dataset for the 30-year period 1991-2020. Comparing the most recent 30 years to the 30 years prior to the previous decade, the report shows that the United States as a whole has experienced warmer temperatures and increased rainfall. However, it was noted that the increase in temperature and rainfall was not uniform across the U.S., and that there were large spatial and seasonal differences. The southern and southwestern parts of the country saw a significant increase in temperature, while the western and east coasts also saw an overall increase in temperature. On the other hand, the 1991-2020 normal was slightly cooler (especially in spring) than the 1981-2010 normal in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and other parts of the north-central U.S. In terms of rainfall, the eastern part of the country, the Rocky Mountains, and the southeast saw an increase in rainfall, while the southwest was drier. However, even in the driest areas, there is the possibility of extremes that can bring large amounts of rainfall when it does fall.

These data will be used not only for daily weather forecasting, but also to help farmers make decisions on what varieties to plant and when. Other important economic decisions regarding weather predictions that are beyond the predicted range are also made with reference to the climate normal.

The U.S. is Japan's largest food trading partner, especially in the western part, where beef cattle graze, and in the northern part of the country, where corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, sugar beets, and other crops are mainly produced. Climate normalization in the U.S. is likely to have an impact on Japan's food security. At the same time, the climate change measures under the Biden administration will also affect the trends of other countries around the world.

NOAA Delivers New U.S. Climate Normals. May 4, 2021. https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/noaa-delivers-new-us-climate-normals

AccuWeather. US is becoming warmer with each decade, new numbers reveal. Published May. 5, 2021 https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/new-noaa-1991-to-2020-clima…

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)

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