If you think the Medford area seems warmer since the turn of the century, it isn't just your imagination heating up.

If you think the Medford area seems warmer since the turn of the century, it isn't just your imagination heating up.

The local average temperature from 2000 through 2006 was above normal by the biggest margin — 1.7 degrees — of the seven Oregon sites studied, according to research released Tuesday by the Portland-based Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center.

Moreover, the research, based on U.S. National Weather Service records, concluded that the Medford area's annual average temperature last year was 1.8 degrees above normal, producing the highest margin of the sites evaluated in Oregon.

Nor is it cooling off as much at night in the Medford area, according to the 55-page survey. Nationally, the area was among five sites in the nation whose overnight temperatures last summer were more than 4 degrees above the 30-year average. The other locations included Burns, Las Vegas and Duluth and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

In Oregon, Medford tied with Burns for the dubious honor of having the largest average increase in the daily low — 4.2 degrees above normal — for the summer of 2006.

And Medford had 65 days with above 90 degrees last summer, 10 above the historical average.

"If you look statewide, there were more 90-degree days than normal and all the sites had above normal temperatures across the board," said Jeremiah Baumann, program director for the center, who has been studying global warming for nearly a decade.

"Medford really jumps out as a stronger warmer trend than the rest of the state," he added. "When you look at all the categories, Medford is more above normal than any other location in Oregon."

The only location in Oregon to top Medford's 3.2 degree above-normal average temperature for the summer of 2006 was Burns with its 4.1 degrees above normal last summer.

After hearing from the scientific community warning about global warming in recent years, the center decided to check out the statistics in Oregon, using National Weather Service records, he explained. In addition to the weather station at the Medford airport and in Burns, sites included Portland, Salem, Eugene, Astoria and Pendleton.

"We wanted to know what it means at the local level," Baumann said, noting the impact is a shrinking mountain snowpack, less water for irrigation and salmon migration and larger wildfires.

Nationally, the study examined temperature data from 255 weather stations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. It compared temperatures from 2000 through 2006 with the 30-year period ending in 2000.

The average temperature during the same seven-year period was at least half a degree above normal for 87 percent of the locations studied across the nation, Baumann said.

In Portland, it was 1.4 degrees above the 30-year average, he added. For the summer of 2006, the average maximum temperatures in Oregon's largest city were 2.7 degrees above normal with the low temperatures 2.1 degrees above normal.

"But southern and southeast Oregon appear to warming faster than the rest of the state," he said of the survey.

The center plans to present its findings to federal lawmakers to urge them to support global warming legislation, including the Safe Climate Act in the U.S. House and the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act in the U.S. Senate.

"No matter where you look, it's definitely hotter," Baumann concluded.

For further information, check out visit this abbreviated link — tinyurl.com/23rr8n — that connects to Environment Oregon's Web page on the study.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or at pfattig@mailtribune.com