Most Americans link weather to global warming - survey

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

* Regional differences, as Midwesterners note crop damage

* NOAA reports a warmer-than-average September

By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Nearly three-quarters ofAmericans say global warming influences U.S. weather and madethis year's record-hot summer worse, a survey said on Tu esday.

Conducted by Yale and George Mason universities, the surveyfound 74 percent of Americans believe that global warming isaffecting weather, up 5 percentage points since March 2012, thelast time the two organizations asked these questions.

Seventy-three percent of Americans said global warming madethe record-high temperatures of summer 2012 worse, and 61percent said weather in the United States has been worseningover the past several years, an increase of 9 percentage pointssince March.

"Extreme weather is clearly having a serious impact onmillions of Americans, though the impacts are different indifferent parts of the country," survey co-investigator EdwardMaibach of George Mason University said in a statement.

The survey found most Midwesterners -- 71 percent, up 21points since March -- said extreme weather caused more harm tocrops over the past few decades. Eighty-three percent said theypersonally experienced an extreme heat wave, while 81 percentsaid they had experienced drought in the past year. That was anincrease of 55 percentage points from March.

A smaller majority of Southerners -- 56 percent -- said theweather in their localities has been getting worse over the pastfew years. Only 40 percent of those in the Northeast saiddrought has become more common. In the West, 49 percent saidextreme weather is causing more forest fires, up seven pointssince March.


The dramatic change in attitudes in the Midwest is in linewith this year's weather events throughout the central part ofthe country, where extraordinary summer heat accompanied droughtthat was the worst in more than half a century.

This year had the hottest first half for the continentalUnited States since record-keeping began in 1895, and July 2012was the hottest month since the Dust Bowl summer of 1936, theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The survey was conducted from Aug. 31 through Sept. 12, withsummer heat and drought fresh in respondents' minds, said Yale'sAnthony Leiserowitz, a principal investigator on the project. Heacknowledged that a cool autumn and snowy winter might have animpact on future responses.

NOAA data released on Tuesday show that September was warmerthan the long-term average in the continental United States, butnot extraordinarily so, tying with 1980 for the 23rd warmestSeptember on record.

"We do know that some people will change their views on anissue, on climate change, depending on whether they've justexperienced a hot day or a cold day -- but I want to underscorethat it's just some people," Leiserowitz said in a telephoneinterview.

Given record-breaking weather over the last two years, hesaid, some respondents have started "connecting the dots"between extreme events and global warming.

The complete survey report is online at .

The study was funded by the Surdna Foundation, the 11th HourProject and the Grantham Foundation.

(Reporting By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent;Editing by Dan Grebler)

((deborah.zabarenko@thomsonreuters.com)(202 898 8388)(ReutersMessaging: deborah.zabarenko.reuters.com@reuters.net))