Home > climate change, Earth science > May is eighth straight warmest month, NASA says

May is eighth straight warmest month, NASA says

May 2016 temperatures

This map indicates the extent to which temperatures on Earth deviated from the 1951-1980 average. Ocean data are not used over land nor within 100 kilometers of a reporting land station.The gray areas on the map indicate missing data. Map courtesy NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

May continued a streak of record setting hot months as average temperatures were nearly a whole degree Celsius above the previously hottest May.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said Tuesday that the mean global temperature during the year’s fifth month was 0.93 degrees Celsius, or 1.67 degrees Fahrenheit, than the average for May.

That made May 2016 the eighth consecutive month, according to NASA records, to break the record for warmth.

The previous record-holding May occurred in 2014.

Japan’s meteorological agency reached a slightly different conclusion, concluding that May 2016 was the second-warmest May on record.

Another U.S. federal agency, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, has yet to release its measurement of average May temperatures. NOAA uses the same data as NASA but analyzes measured temperatures differently.

NASA’s method depends on a dataset called the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis. GISTEMP includes records from 6,300 meteorological stations scattered around the planet, ship-based and satellite observations of sea surface temperatures, and research stations in Antarctica. The GISTEMP data goes back to 1880.

Although May was another record-setting month, in terms of heat, it was not as anomalous as the seven prior months. Between October 2015 and April 2016 the monthly average temperature exceeded the previous record-holding month by at least one degree Celsius.

The explanation for the lessened disparity in heat between May 2016 and previous Mays in the temperature record might be related to the approaching end of a powerful El Nino event.

Nevertheless, at least according to one climate scientist, May’s record-setting mean temperature means that the rolling 12-month average has now exceeded one degree Celsius above the norm for the period 1951-1980.

 

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