Last month was the warmest June since records began being kept in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Monday. That follows the warmest May on record.
Land and sea surface temperature percentiles in June 2014. Hot spots in red. CREDIT: NOAA
As the map shows, the oceans were particularly warm. In fact, NOAA reports:
The June global sea surface temperature was 0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F), the highest for June on record and the highest departure from average for any month.
Another worrisome piece of news from NOAA: “Parts of Greenland were record warm during June. According to the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), Kangerlussuaq in southwestern Greenland recorded its record highest maximum June temperature of 23.2°C (73.8°F) on June 15.” If we don’t reverse emissions trends ASAP, then it’s a question of when, not if, the Greenland ice sheet passes the point of no return for catastrophic, irreversible melt.
NOAA’s report matches that of the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) which said that last month was the hottest June on record. They had previously reported it was the hottest May on record. NASA has reported it was the third warmest June on record in their dataset, but the hottest May on record.
These records all occurred despite the fact we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño. It is usually the combination of the underlying long-term warming trend and the regional El Niño warming pattern that leads to new global temperature records.
According to NOAA, “The last below-average global temperature for June was June 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985.” In other words, the last time the Earth experienced a June with below-average global temperatures, Gerald Ford was President!
As an aside, if you are wondering why temperatures declined from 1880 to 1912, a primary reason was an an unusual spate of major volcanic eruptions from 1875 to 1912, including the 1883 Krakatau eruption, which was the biggest volcanic explosion ever observed. Climate and volcano expert Alan Robock discusses the cooling effect from big volcanoes here. It was not until the 1963 Agung eruption, which “produced the largest stratospheric dust veil in more than 50 years” in the Northern Hemisphere, that major volcanic activity resumed.
So, barring a major volcanic eruption in the near future, It seems all but certain more records will be broken in the coming months, as global warming combines with an emerging El Niño — whose chance of forming NOAA puts at “about 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer” and “close to 80% during the fall and early winter.”