The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the Lower 48 states. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, a full degree warmer than the previous record from 1988.
A draft report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program finds that "human-induced climate change" may lead to long-term warming trends. The report finds these changes may impact everything from sea levels to weather trends.
Todd Stanford, a climate researcher at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the draft report may lead to new considerations of climate issues.
"It gives us a road map for climate change," he said in a statement. "And the road is much bumpier if we continue along a higher emissions pathway."
NOAA said the 2012 temperature average in the continental United States was 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average recorded during the 20th century.
U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the changing weather patterns meant congressional leaders can't afford to address the issue from "an air-conditioned perch."
Last year's so-called superstorm Sandy was said to have formed over Atlantic waters that were normal than usual.