NOAA reports that May was the globe’s warmest in 134 years of records, besting the previous high mark established in 2010. Last week, NASA and the japan Meteorological Agency, in independent analyses, also released data indicating it was our home planet’s toastiest May on record.
This was the 39th straight May and the 351st straight month with a global average surface temperature above average for the 20th century. The last below average May occurred in 1976, and the last below average temperature for any month occurred in February.
The average global temperature for the month of May 2014 was 59.03 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.33 degrees above the 20th century average.
Record warm ocean waters helped the planet’s temperature soar to record high levels, NOAA says. The average temperature of the ocean surface rose to 1.06F degrees above normal- matching the biggest difference from normal in any month dating back to 1880.
The warming of the oceans reveals the symptoms of a developing El Niņo event in which sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific rise, pumping large quantities of heat into the atmosphere. The past warmest years on records, 2010 and 1998, coincided with El Niņo events. NOAA says there is a 70 percent chance El Niņo develops this summer and 80 percent chance by late in the fall.
Such a long streak of above average temperatures has been tied to increasing amounts of manmade greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere, which is causing temperatures to increase. Natural climate variability ensures that month-to-month and year-to-year trends can vary, but overall the long-term temperature trend is unmistakably upward.
The majority of the world saw above average monthly temperatures during May, with record warmth across eastern Kazakhstan, parts of Indonesia, and central and northwestern Australia.
Every major ocean basin of Earth had a section that was record warm, while the northeastern Atlantic, and the northwestern and southeastern Pacific were cooler than average. The average May temperature was record high for South Korea, at 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit about the 1981-2010 average.
Studies show that heat waves are already becoming more intense and long lasting globally, as average temperatures warm in response to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the air.
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