INSTITUTE INDEX: Confronting a deepening climate crisis

Rank of 2012 among the warmest years on record for the contiguous United States: 1

Degrees by which the average 2012 temperature for the lower 48 states exceeded the 20th century average: 3.2

Number of all-time U.S. record high temperatures tied or broken in 2012: 356

Number of all-time U.S. record low temperatures tied or broken last year: 4

Decade in which the ratio of high to low temperature records was last in balance: 1970s

Number of U.S. residents who in 2012 experienced 10 or more days of temperatures that reached or exceeded 100 degrees: 99.1 million

The new all-time warmest temperature in South Carolina, set on June 28, 2012 in Columbia: 113

Rank of 2012 among the worst years as measured by the Climate Extremes Index: 2*

Number of U.S. disasters in 2012 that exceeded $1 billion in damages: 11

Percent of the United States that was engulfed in drought last year: 61

Number of trees killed by the drought in Texas alone: over 306 million

Rank of 2012's summer Arctic sea ice cover among the lowest in the satellite record: 1

Year in which recent climate models suggest that ice-free conditions may occur in the Arctic: 2050

Factor by which sea level rise along the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina exceeds the rise globally, due in part to warming oceans decreasing Gulf Stream flow and causing water to back up toward the shore: 3

Rank of sea level rise along this stretch of the Atlantic Coast among the world's fastest: 1

If acceleration continues at the same rate, feet by which sea levels could rise from North Carolina to Massachusetts by 2100: 5.3

Date on which North Carolina adopted a law banning state agencies from considering scientific predictions of sea level rise for planning purposes over concerns about discouraging coastal development: 8/3/2012

Date on which new North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory appointed as the state's environmental chief a businessman who denies there's a scientific consensus about the reality of climate change: 12/13/2012

Number of minutes spent discussing climate change on Sunday morning TV talk shows in 2012: 8

Percentage that number has declined since 2009: 86

Percentage increase in the earth's atmosphere of carbon, which is largely responsible for driving the warming, since the Industrial Revolution: 40

Number of college campuses across the country that have joined a campaign calling on schools to divest their endowments from the fossil-fuel industry, the leading industrial source of U.S. carbon emissions: over 100

Date on which President Obama said in an interview that climate and energy policy would be among the issues at the top of his agenda for the next four years: 12/12/12

Date on which Lisa Jackson resigned as EPA administrator, reportedly over concerns that President Obama would approve the Keystone XL pipeline designed to transport Canadian tar sands oil to Gulf Coast refineries, which leading climate scientist James Hansen of NASA has said would mean "game over" for the climate: 12/27/12

Date on which it was reported that the new chair of the House Science Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), planned to put an assessment of climate on his agenda: 1/11/13

* The top slot is held by 1998.

(Click on figure to go to source. Map from the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.)