Tuesday, September 13, 2016

August Ties July as Hottest Month Ever on Record


By Andrea Thompson
Sept. 12, 2016

In what has become a common refrain this year, last month ranked as the hottest August on record, according to NASA data released Monday. Not only that, but the month tied July as the hottest month the world has seen in the last 136 years.

August came in at 1.76˚F (0.98˚C) above the average from 1951-1980, 0.16C above August 2014, the previous record holder. The record keeps 2016 on track to be the hottest year in the books by a fair margin.

That August continued the streak of record hot months this year and tied July as the hottest month was somewhat unexpected. The seasonal temperature cycle generally reaches a peak in July, as it did this year. But August was so anomalously warm — more so even than July — that it tied that month’s overall temperature.

It was also thought that July would likely be the last record hot month of the year, given the dissipation of El Niño.

In NASA’s dataset, August marks the 11th record-setting month in a row. That streak goes back 15 months through July in data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Each agency handles the global temperature data slightly differently and uses a different period of comparison, leading to slight differences in the monthly and yearly temperature numbers. Overall, though, both datasets show clear agreement in the overall warming trend.

That trend is what Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and other climate scientists emphasize. It is that excess heat that has accumulated over decades thanks to rising levels of greenhouse gases that accounts for the bulk of this year’s record warmth, with El Niño providing only a small boost.


"Monthly rankings, which vary by only a few hundredths of a degree, are inherently fragile," Schmidt said in a statement. "We stress that the long-term trends are the most important for understanding the ongoing changes that are affecting our planet."


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