POSTED: Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 6:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 6:04am
CNN — The year 2012 was declared the globe's 10th warmest since record keeping began in 1880 and the warmest ever for the Lower 48 U.S. states, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.
Last year also marked the 36th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th century average, the federal agency said Tuesday.
"All 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001 to 2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record (keeping). Only one year during the (20th) century --- 1998 --- was warmer than 2012," the center said.
In 2012, the contiguous United States experienced its warmest year since national record keeping began in 1895, the agency said. The new record broke the prior one, set in 1998, by 1 degree Fahrenheit, the center said.
At the same time Tuesday, the world's warming trend was blamed for the postponement of a sled dog race in Minnesota.
The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and Mid-Distance Races were rescheduled to March 10 from January 27 because of scant snow.
"For the third time in six years, we've had to cancel or reschedule the Beargrease sled dog race due to lack of snow," race coordinator Pat Olson said.
"We recently had a big rain storm. Rain, but no snow, which messed up the trails. Lots of people [in the sled dog racing community] are doing what we're doing. There was a race scheduled for last weekend and this weekend, and both of those races were forced to be rescheduled due to lack of snow," Olson said.
One musher cited global warming -- disputed by some analysts and politicians -- as an explanation.
"Last year all but one sled dog race was canceled in Minnesota," said Peter McClelland, a sled dog marathon racer and operator of a sled tour business in Minnesota. "Over the past five years, we've lost a month of snowy weather on either side of the typical winter season. That's a big deal, to lose a month when your season is only four months out of the year.
"It seems to be that this is a just a climate change issue," McClelland continued. "Temperatures are going up. Historically we used to have snow by Thanksgiving, but that hasn't happened for over a decade."
The 400-mile marathon race is regarded as one of the most famous dog sled races, held on Minnesota's North Shore, along the usually frosty Lake Superior.
Last year, the Beargrease races were canceled because of "lack of snow and poor trail conditions," the race's board of directors said.