We Just Lived Through The Hottest Month In Recorded History

2016 is still on track for the hottest year ever.

8How July temperatures differed from 1951–1980 average. Credit: NASA.
8How July temperatures differed from 1951–1980 average. Credit: NASA.

Yes, it’s hot out there thanks to global warming. NASA reports that last month was the hottest July on record.

That follows the hottest June or record, hottest May, April, March, February, and January. It’s almost like there is a pattern….

How hot was it last month? As the map above shows, parts of the Arctic and Antarctic averaged as high as 7.7°C (13.9°F) above average. No wonder we’ve seen records broken for the melting of the ice sheets and Arctic sea ice.

It was so hot that Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, tweeted out Monday, “July 2016 was absolutely the hottest month since the instrumental records began.” He attached this chart:

Credit: NASA.
Credit: NASA.

Nerd Digression: Why is the world so much hotter in July, which is the Northern Hemisphere (NH) summer than it is in, say January, which is the Southern Hemisphere summer? Funny you should ask. Schmidt answers that very question on twitter: “It’s because there is more land in the NH, so temperatures in summer there warm more.”

So what is causing all of this record warmth? The AP answers that question awkwardly:

Scientists blame mostly man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuel, with an extra jump from the now-gone El Nino, which is a natural temporary warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide.

It would be clearer and more accurate to say: “Scientists have concluded that climate change is primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels….”

Since we may now be entering a La Niña that temporarily cools part of the Pacific Ocean, we may not set any more monthly records this year. But Schmidt wants you to know that there’s “still 99% chance of a new annual record in 2016.”

NASA’s Land and Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI) with respect to the 1880–1899 baseline (°C)
NASA’s Land and Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI) with respect to the 1880–1899 baseline (°C)

If 2016 does set the record, that would be three straight records in a row — and an ominous sign that long-awaited step-jump in global temperatures has finally come.