* 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
"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
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
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)