August 2015 blended land and sea surface temperature percentiles. Graphic: NOAA

By Seth Borenstein
17 September 2015

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) – Earth's record-breaking heat is sounding an awful lot like a broken record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that August, this past summer and the first eight months of 2015 all smashed global records for heat.

That's the fifth straight record hot season in a row and the fourth consecutive record hot month. Meteorologists say 2015 is a near certainty to eclipse 2014 as the hottest year on record. This year, six of the eight months have been record breaking, with only April and January failing to set new records.

Since 2000, Earth has broken monthly heat records 30 times and seasonal heat records 11 times. The last time a monthly cold record was broken was in 1916. Records go back to 1880.

"For scientists, these are just a few more data points in an increasingly long list of broken records (that) is due to warming temperatures," Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe said in an email. "As individuals, though, this is yet another reminder of the impact our unprecedented and inadvertent experiment — an experiment that began with the Industrial Revolution — is having on our planet today."

Scientists blame a combination of human-caused climate change and natural El Niño, a warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide.

Global warming is like the steady climbing of stairs and then El Niño "is like standing on your tippy toes" while climbing those stairs, said Deke Arndt, global monitoring chief for NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. [more]

Earth's record streak of record heat keeps on sizzling

17 September 2015 (NOAA) – The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for August 2015 was the warmest August on record, 1.58°F (0.88°C) warmer than the 20th century average, and surpassing the previous record set in 2014 by 0.16°F (0.09°C). August 2015 tied with January 2007 as the third warmest monthly highest departure from average for any month since record keeping began in 1880. The combined global average land and ocean surface temperature for January–August was also record warm.

Global highlights: August 2015

  • The August average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.58°F (0.88°C) above the 20th century average—the warmest August on record, surpassing the previous record by +0.16°F (+0.09°C). This was the sixth month in 2015 that has broken its monthly temperature record (February, March, May, June, July, and August).
  • The August globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.05°F (1.14°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for August in the 1880–2015 record, besting the previous record set in 1998 by +0.23°F (+0.13°C). Record warmth was observed across much of South America and parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
  • The August globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.40°F (0.78°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest temperature for any month in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in July 2015 2014 by +0.07°F (+0.04°C). Large portions of the seven seas (where temperature records are available) recorded much-warmer-than-average temperatures, with some locations across all oceans experiencing record warmth.
  • El Niño conditions were present across the tropical Pacific Ocean during August 2015. According to analysis by the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, there is a greater than 90 percent chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015/16.
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for August 2015 was 620,000 square miles (22.3 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the fourth smallest August extent since records began in 1979, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center using data from NOAA and NASA.
  • Antarctic sea ice extent during August 2015 was 30,000 square miles (0.5 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This marks a shift from recent years when Antarctic sea ice extent was record and near-record large. This is the first month since November 2011 that the Antarctic sea ice extent was below average. [more]

Global Summary Information - August 2015



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