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Photo: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed new standards on Tuesday for what an average or "normal" U.S. climate looks like, showing average temperatures in the U.S. rising significantly.

Why it matters: Shifting the baseline for normal temperatures highlights just how quickly climate change is affecting conditions on Earth.

  • Updating these standards is important for helping shape government policies and what your local weather forecaster says the "average" high temperature is on a given date.

The big picture: NOAA releases climate averages for the preceding 30-year period every 10 years. The "climate normals" released Tuesday cover 1991-2020 and indicate that the U.S. climate has warmed, and also become wetter over time.

  • NOAA noted that parts of the U.S. may also get drier, due to climate change.
  • "The influence of long-term global warming is obvious," per a press release.

The new normals may shift how the climate is described for particular parts of the U.S.

  • With the changes, Fairbanks, Alaska is no longer considered a sub-Arctic climate, but is now termed a "warm summer continental" climate.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' climate reporter Andrew Freedman: The new normals, released Tuesday, show how the U.S. is getting warmer and, overall, wetter as climate change continues. There are some exceptions to the rule, though, with warming especially pronounced in the Northeast and West, and rainfall coming in shorter, heavier bursts.

  • The West has become drier with time, too.

Go deeper

Gina McCarthy confirms talks ongoing with airline industry to cut emissions

Gina McCarthy. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy was on the road Tuesday in Illinois to tout the administration's progress on climate action and learn more about cutting-edge energy research at two national laboratories.

Driving the news: In an interview with Axios, she addressed a Reuters report that the White House is working with the airline industry on a plan to cut that sector's greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, through the use of sustainable aviation fuels, among other steps.

Biden White House jammed on gas prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden White House increasingly views rising gasoline prices as a source of potential political peril — and is now asking some of the world's biggest oil producers to pump more oil.

Why it matters: This trend, combined with a fragile economic recovery threatened by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and inflation beginning to bite consumers, could threaten the administration's ambitious congressional agenda for late summer and early fall.

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — considered the world's largest by volume. Park officials wrapped the trees in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. And officials said early Sunday protection efforts appeared to be working.