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Researcher: March Warmest Month On Record, Signals Global Warming

Aired 4/9/12 on KPBS News.

A San Diego Climate researcher says news about this March being the warmest on record, comes as no surprise.

— Federal officials say March 2012 was unique because 15,292 temperature records fell across the U.S. The average national temperature for the month was 6 degrees above the long term average and the first three months of the year were the warmest ever recorded in the lower 48 states.

The planet is starting to exhibit growing signs of global warming, said Richard Somerville, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

@JustinNOAA tweets: "Stunning photo of Caughlin Fire in Reno, taken at 1:00 am by NOAA's Alexander Hoon."
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Above: @JustinNOAA tweets: "Stunning photo of Caughlin Fire in Reno, taken at 1:00 am by NOAA's Alexander Hoon."

"It is an early symptom of a disease that's going to get worse," he said. "And just as in medicine, prevention is better than cure and it's much better to attack the problem while there's still time."

San Diego will feel the effects of global warming, according to Somerville, who said rising sea levels will lead to more erosion along the coast. The climate will also be drier in Southern California.

"Water will cost more. There will be water rationing sometimes. There will be more competition for water between urban and agricultural users," said Somerville. "But also there are a lot of other dominoes that fall. For example, in a world where there is less rainfall, there's greater wildfire risk."

Somerville says time is running out to influence the future. He says the window for change is five to 10 years, not 50 to 100.

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