The annual State of the Climate reports involve more than 400 international authors from more than 50 countries. Two chapter authors reflect on what it means to play a part in such an ambitious report.
The current drought in the Southwest is not drier or longer-lasting than historic episodes documented in tree rings, but the current dry conditions stand out from the historical record by being hotter, according to Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona.
Each year, following months of number crunching and fact-checking, hundreds of climate and earth scientists contribute to a global-scale evaluation of climate and environmental conditions over the previous year. This analysis--our planet's annual check up--is known as the State of the Climate report. Highlights of the 2011 State of the Climate report include wild weather extremes, a double-dip La Niña, and continued evidence of long-term climate warming.