ClimareCentral.org — The first half of 2016 has blown away temperature records, capped off by a record hot June, once again bumping up the odds that 2016 will be the hottest year on record globally, according to data released last week.
The running average of global temperatures during 2016.
The monthly numbers from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts the planet on track to surpass 2015 as the hottest on record.
While 2016 has gotten a boost from an exceptionally strong El Niño, the record temps are mostly the result of the excess heat that has built up in Earth’s atmosphere due to accumulating greenhouse gases. That heat is raising global sea levels, disrupting ecosystems and leading to more extreme weather events.
Every month this year has been record warm globally. Several months early in the year were among the first ever recorded to exceed 1°C (1.8°F) above average according to both NASA and NOAA. All six months of the year so far exceeded that remarkable benchmark when compared to preindustrial temperatures.
With June’s record heat, the year-to-date is 1.89°F (1.05°C) above the 20th century average, according to NOAA, and 1.96°F (1.09°C) above the 1951-1980 average according to NASA.
The temperatures “are so in excess of any first part of a year that we’ve seen,” Schmidt said.
The Arctic has been one of the areas of the world that has seen sky-high temperatures this year, which have led torecord-low sea ice levels.
Those roasting Arctic temperatures have extended into Alaska. The state’s average temperature is 9°F above the 1925-2000 average for the year through June. The North Slope town of Deadhorse just recorded a temperature of 85°F (29.4°C), the hottest temperature ever measured within 50 miles of its Arctic coast.
The oceans are another area that have seen persistent warmth. According to NOAA, the global average ocean temperature for the first half of the year is 1.42°F (0.79°C) above the 20th century average, the largest such departure in 137 years of records. These elevated temperatures have led to a record third year of a global coral bleaching event.
Water changes temperature more slowly than the air or land, which means the global ocean heat is likely to persist for some time. In part because of that, temperatures are likely to stay elevated for the remainder of the year, even if they drop off the record pace.
Whether 2016 ultimately bests 2015 depends on how the second half of year goes. Forecasts have backed off predictions of a La Niña this fall; La Niña tends to cool global temperatures
Regardless of where 2016 falls, the long-term trend of warming is clear, and it has tipped the odds in favor of record heat: Of the 15 warmest years on record, 14 have occurred in the 21st century.