November 2015 is second-warmest in known history, NASA says, as this year stays on track for record warmth
November 2016 was the second-warmest November in recorded history, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced last week, with an average global temperature that was less than one-tenth of a degree Celsius lower than the record-setter of 2015.
Last month was also 0.95 degrees Celsius (1.71 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average November during the years between 1951-1980 and kept Earth on the path to the warmest year the planet has experienced in the 136 years in which consistent weather records have been maintained.
November 2015 was 1.02 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean for the month during that 29-year period.
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that, according to its calculations, November 2016 was the fifth-warmest in recorded history. NOAA said that last month’s average global temperature was 0.72 degrees Celsius (1.31 degrees Fahrenheit) above the norm for the month.
NOAA’s assessment of the month’s place in climate history is based on 122 years of records.
As the year approaches its end, there is little doubt that it will be the warmest known in either 122 or 136 years. NOAA’s statement explained that this year’s average temperature to date is 0.94 degrees Celsius (1.69 degrees Fahrenheit) above the mean for the past 122 years, while NASA’s methods indicate that the year-to-date mean temperature is 1.02 degrees Celsius (1.84 degrees Fahrenheit) above that for the period 1951-1980.
Earth’s Arctic region has been the part of the planet where warmth has been most pronounced this year.
NOAA’s 2016 Artic Report Card, which the agency released earlier this month, indicated that the extent of summer sea ice in the region this year was tied with 2007 for the second-lowest since 1979 and that average surface air temperatures there in the year that ended on Sept. 30 were the highest since at least 1900.
The mean air temperature in the Arctic has warmed by 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1900, a pace that is twice as fast as that experienced by the rest of Earth.
The continental United States experienced warmer temperatures than normal for the first 11 months of this year from coast-to-coast and from northern border to southern border. This graphic, prepared by the National Centers for Environmental Information, shows that no region in the mainland U.S. experienced an average temperature that is lower than the mean of the past 122 years:
August 2016 was the warmest month in recorded history, tying July 2016 for that distinction.
NASA said Monday that the mean worldwide temperature during August was 0.16 degrees Celsius hotter than the previous record-setting August and 0.98 degrees Celsius hotter than the average August between 1951-1980.
According to analysis completed by the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, August 2016 was the eleventh month in a row to reach a new high for that month’s average worldwide temperature.
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.
January continued a streak of hotter-than-average months, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, going into the record books as the hottest January since climate records have been kept and continuing a recent streak of consecutive warmest monthly temperature benchmarks.
According to the National Centers of Environmental Information, a bureau of NOAA, the worldwide average atmosphere and ocean surface temperature was 1.04 degrees Celsius above the 2oth century average. That is the second-highest deviation from the global norm ever recorded in 137 years of record-keeping, trailing only December 2015.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies released data last week indicating that January represented the greatest departure from the global average atmosphere and ocean surface temperature, with the worldwide measurement reaching 1.13 degrees above the global average of the last century.
The record-breaking warmth was especially pronounced in the Arctic, where temperatures above 75 degrees north latitude were 7 degrees Celsius above average and temperatures. That would explain the report released last week by the National Snow & Ice Data Center, which indicated that January’s Arctic ice pack is lower than it has been in any January in recorded history. The NSIDC data shows that January’s Arctic ice pack was more than a million square kilometers less than the 1981-2010 average.
The NOAA report indicated that Sub-Saharan Africa, most of South America, the Middle East, and southwestern Asia also experienced significant warmth last month. Some areas experienced anomalous rainfall, particularly the United Kingdom, Ireland, some parts of western Europe, New Zealand, parts of Brazil and southern South America, and parts of China. Others were abnormally dry. Those areas included parts of Mexico and northern South America, some areas in Australia, portions of Asia, and a small part of northwestern Africa.
January was also the ninth consecutive month in which the record for highest average monthly air and sea surface temperature has been broken, according to NOAA.
1976 was the last year in which Earth experienced a January that was colder than average.