WASHINGTON (AP) – Earth dialed the heat up in June, smashing warm temperature records for both the month and the first half of the year.
Off-the-charts heat is “getting to be a monthly thing,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. June was the fourth month of 2015 that set a record, she said.
“There is almost no way that 2015 isn’t going to be the warmest on record,” she added.
NOAA calculated that the world’s average temperature in June hit 61.48 degrees Fahrenheit (16.33 Celsius), breaking the old record set last year by 0.22 degrees (.12 degrees Celsius). Usually temperature records are broken by one or two one-hundredths of a degree, not nearly a quarter of a degree, Blunden said.
And the picture is even more dramatic when the half-year is considered.
The first six months of 2015 were one-sixth of a degree warmer than the old record, set in 2010, averaging 57.83 degrees (14.35 Celsius).
The old record for the first half of the year was set in 2010, the last time there was an El Niño – a warming of the central Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide. But in 2010, the El Niño petered out. This year, forecasters are predicting this El Niño will get stronger, not weaker.
“If that happens, it’s just going to go off the charts,” Blunden said.
For the oceans, the NOAA reports that the June global sea surface temperature was 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F), the highest for June on record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.06°C (0.11°F). This also tied with September 2014 as the highest monthly departure from average for any month for the globally-averaged sea surface temperature.
Nine of the ten highest monthly departures from average have occurred since May 2014.
Moderate El Niño conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during the month. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, there is a greater than 90 percent chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015/16, and around an 80 percent chance it will last into early spring 2016. The current atmospheric and oceanic features reflect an ongoing and strengthening El Niño.
June was warm nearly all over the world, with exceptional heat in Spain, Austria, parts of Asia, Australia and South America. Southern Pakistan had a June heat wave that killed more than 1,200 people – which, according to an international database, would be the eighth deadliest in the world since 1900. In May, a heat wave in India claimed more than 2,000 lives and ranked as the fifth deadliest on record.
May and March also broke monthly heat records, which go back 136 years. Initially NOAA figured February 2015 was only the second hottest February on record, but new data came in that made it too the hottest, Blunden said. Earth has broken monthly heat records 25 times since the year 2000, but hasn’t broken a monthly cold record since 1916.
“This is what anthropogenic global warming looks like, just hotter and hotter,” said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona.