The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported today that “the global surface temperature for the combined January-May period tied with 1998 as the warmest January-May on record.” (And 1998 was the warmest year on record.)
May was the fourth warmest on record (the warmest ever over land) and followed on the heels of a warm April. So spring was very warm over most of the planet. Temperature anomalies are shown on the dot map below. The redder it is, the hotter it is.
For the spring, much of Siberia is a stunning 5°C (9°F) above average. This is worrisome because
- Siberia contains probably the world’s largest amount of carbon locked away in the permafrost.
- The permafrost is increasingly not so perma.
- Much of that carbon would be released as methane, which is 23 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
The NCDC reports other climate extremes for the year to date:
- It was the driest spring on record across the southeast, with Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia setting recrods.
- On May 29, 50% of the western U.S. was in moderate-to-exceptional drought, 83% in the Southeast, and 34% for the contiguous U.S.
- In China, the worst drought since 1940 was concentrated across several Chinese provinces.
Finally, the NCDC continues to note that planetary warming is accelerating:
During the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.11°F (0.06°C) per decade, but the rate of increase has been three times larger since 1976, or 0.32°F (0.18°C) per decade, with some of the largest temperature increases occurring in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.
We are running out of time to act.