Thursday, June 16, 2016

NOAA and NASA: Earth’s Warmest May on Record

By: Jeff Masters and Bob Henson , 7:23 PM GMT on June 16, 2016

The warming influence of the intense 2015 - 2016 El Niño event is waning, but May 2016 was still the planet's warmest May since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Thursday. In the NOAA database, May 2016 came in 0.87°C (1.57°F) warmer than the 20th-century average for May, beating the previous record for May, set in 2015, by 0.02°C. This is the smallest margin the monthly global temperature has broken a record by since August 2015. NASA also reported the warmest May in its database, although the Japan Meteorological Agency placed May 2016 just a whisker (0.01°C) behind May 2015. May 2016 marked the 13th consecutive month that the global monthly temperature record was broken--the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880. Global ocean temperatures were the warmest on record for any May, but global land temperatures were the third warmest. Global satellite-measured temperatures in May 2016 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 2nd warmest for any May in the 38-year record, and the year-to-date period was the warmest on record, according to the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

The impressive global warmth in recent months is due to the steady build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases due to human activities, plus a spike due to a large amount of heat being released from waters in the Eastern Pacific due to the powerful 2015-16 El Niño event. This event peaked in December,
[The ocean was able to release so much heat because of the large amount it had stored as a result of global warming.]


Figure 3. Departure from average for the global January-through-May temperature for the years 1880 - 2016. As is evident here and in Figure 1, this year has seen by far the warmest temperatures on record for the year-to-date period. Image credit: NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).


One nation--India--set a record in May 2016 for its all-time hottest temperature on record. From January through June 16, 2016, a total of eleven nations or territories tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history--which is a very large number of records for so early in the year. One all-time cold temperature record has been set so far in 2016 (in Hong Kong.) "All-time" record here refers to the warmest or coldest temperature ever reliably reported in a nation or territory. The period of record varies from country to country and station to station, but it is typically a few decades to a century or more.

If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records.


Antarctica records its warmest minimum temperature on record

On May 27, 2016, the daily low temperature at Esperanza Base, on the outer end of the Antarctic Peninsula, was 8.8°C (47.8°F), which appears to be the warmest daily low on record anywhere in Antarctica, including the Antarctic Peninsula, King George Island, and other islands lying below the 60°S latitude that are considered part of the continent by the Antarctic Treaty. (WU weather historian Christopher Burt has a post on Antarctica’s all-time high of 17.5°C (63.5°F), set at Esperanza in March 2015.) Herrera has not found any other examples of daily lows in Antarctica any milder than 6.5°C. “For a continental record, this was smashed by an amazing margin,” he stated in an email. The high temperature at Esperanza the previous day--May 26, 2016--hit 17.2°C, which was its second highest temperature on record, just behind the famous 17.5°C record set last year. The late May 2016 records are truly remarkable since they were set less than a month before the onset of meteorological winter.


tags: severe weather, extreme weather

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