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NOAA reveals "new normals" for U.S. climate as average temps are heating up

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.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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