Most Americans link weather to global warming - survey

Reuters Middle East

* Hot summer, mild winter influence U.S. attitudes

* Regional differences, as Midwesterners note crop damage

* NOAA reports a warmer-than-average September

WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Nearly three-quarters of

Americans say global warming influences U.S. weather and made

this year's record-hot summer worse, a survey said on Tu esday.

Conducted by Yale and George Mason universities, the survey

found 74 percent of Americans believe that global warming is

affecting weather, up 5 percentage points since March 2012, the

last time the two organizations asked these questions.

Seventy-three percent of Americans said global warming made

the record-high temperatures of summer 2012 worse, and 61

percent said weather in the United States has been worsening

over the past several years, an increase of 9 percentage points

since March.

"Extreme weather is clearly having a serious impact on

millions of Americans, though the impacts are different in

different parts of the country," survey co-investigator Edward

Maibach of George Mason University said in a statement.

The survey found most Midwesterners -- 71 percent, up 21

points since March -- said extreme weather caused more harm to

crops over the past few decades. Eighty-three percent said they

personally experienced an extreme heat wave, while 81 percent

said they had experienced drought in the past year. That was an

increase of 55 percentage points from March.

A smaller majority of Southerners -- 56 percent -- said the

weather in their localities has been getting worse over the past

few years. Only 40 percent of those in the Northeast said

drought has become more common. In the West, 49 percent said

extreme weather is causing more forest fires, up seven points

since March.

DROUGHT AND THE MIDWEST

The dramatic change in attitudes in the Midwest is in line

with this year's weather events throughout the central part of

the country, where extraordinary summer heat accompanied drought

that was the worst in more than half a century.

This year had the hottest first half for the continental

United States since record-keeping began in 1895, and July 2012

was the hottest month since the Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The survey was conducted from Aug. 31 through Sept. 12, with

summer heat and drought fresh in respondents' minds, said Yale's

Anthony Leiserowitz, a principal investigator on the project. He

acknowledged that a cool autumn and snowy winter might have an

impact on future responses.

NOAA data released on Tuesday show that September was warmer

than the long-term average in the continental United States, but

not extraordinarily so, tying with 1980 for the 23rd warmest

September on record.

"We do know that some people will change their views on an

issue, on climate change, depending on whether they've just

experienced a hot day or a cold day -- but I want to underscore

that it's just some people," Leiserowitz said in a telephone

interview.

Given record-breaking weather over the last two years, he

said, some respondents have started "connecting the dots"

between extreme events and global warming.

The complete survey report is online at http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/Extreme-Weather-Public-Opinion-September-2012.pdf.

The study was funded by the Surdna Foundation, the 11th Hour

Project and the Grantham Foundation.

(Reporting By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent;

Editing by Dan Grebler)

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