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2012 recorded as warmest year in history

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: 2012 recorded as warmest year in history
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2012 was the warmest year ever recorded in the United States. YNN's Chris Whalen has more on the spike in temperature and what it could mean for global climate change.

UNITED STATES -- From the get-go, something was a little off about 2012's weather.

"We had a lot more sunshine, we had very little snow, it was dry, so with more sunshine and no snow cover, it's warmer," said Dave Nicosia, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The trend continued all year, making 2012 the warmest year on the record books. The average temperature across the lower 48 states was 55.3 degrees, a full degree warmer than the previous record-high year in 1998 and 19 states, including New York, had their warmest year's ever recorded.

"It's predominately due to the wind and the jet stream patterns and the jet stream pattern was just in a favorable configuration for warmth in the lower 48," Nicosia said.

The increase in temperature alone might not be enough to convince skeptics of global climate change, but experts say if you pair it together with a number of other factors, the trend is hard to ignore.

"Take any individual piece of information: Hot year, severe storms, big droughts, no one of those or even two or three of those by themselves is convincing evidence, or conclusive evidence that the climate is in the midst of significant changes. You put all of those together, it's pretty hard to argue against it," said Peter Knuepfer, professor of geological sciences at Binghamton University.

Knuepfer believes we're in a transitional period in terms of weather patterns and says it's not a matter of 'if' we're in for more years like 2012 but 'how often.'

"A lot of what we've thought about in the past, you almost have to throw some of those things away and start rethinking what could the degree of change be in the future and how we're going to adjust to that," Knuepfer said.

It's still too early to tell where 2013 might rank in terms of overall temperatures, but this winter is already slightly above average so far.

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