Last updated on May 17, 2018
A recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the first half of 2015 has been the hottest since weather record keeping began. The report also says that June was the hottest the Earth has ever experienced.
Extreme heat is “getting to be a monthly thing”, says Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist for NOAA. She explained that June was the fourth month to break a record. “There is almost no way that 2015 isn’t going to be the warmest on record.”
According to NOAA scientists, the world’s average temperature in June was 61.48F (16.33C), breaking the old record set last year by 0.22F (0.12C). Usually temperature records are broken by one or two hundredths of a degree, not nearly a quarter of a degree, Blunden said.
When half-year statistics are considered, the picture is even more dramatic with the average temperature in the first six months of 2015 being 57.83F (14.35C), beating the old record set in 2010 by one-sixth of a degree.
India experienced a heatwave in May that claimed more than 2,000 lives, and according to an international database, ranked as the fifth deadliest heatwave on record in the world. The months of March and May also broke monthly heat records that date back 136 years.
The month of June proved to be warm in nearly every part of the world with exceptional heat in Spain, parts of Asia, Austria, Australia and South America. In southern Pakistan, more than 1,200 died in June from a heatwave, making it the eighth deadliest heatwave in the world since 1900.
New data from NOAA scientists shows that Earth has broken monthly heat records 25 times since 2000, but has not broken any cold record temperatures since 1916.
“This is what anthropogenic global warming looks like, just hotter and hotter,” said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona.
As for Earth’s water, NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report, said the seas last year “were just ridiculous.”
The report showed that ocean surface temperatures were the warmest in the 135 years of temperature record-keeping, with seas holding record amounts of heat energy down to depths of 2,300 feet. Due to the expansion of the warmer waters, sea levels also reached new highs.
NOAA oceanographer, Greg Johnson, explains that about 93 percent of the man-made heat energy from the burning of fossil fuels went into the world’s oceans.
Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information says that heat energy trapped in the ocean affects all sorts of weather, including providing more fuel for tropical cyclones. In 2014, 91 tropical cyclones were recorded worldwide, slightly more than the 30-year average of 82.
Johnson says that there have been all sorts of warming events put into overdrive, especially in the Pacific. In addition to El Nino, there was “The Blob”, a warming of the northeast Pacific as well as a larger scale warming called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which normally coincides with faster warming of the planet. He adds that even subtropical fish have been spotted in unusually far reaches off the coast of Alaska due to the warm waters.
More than 400 scientists took part in the 292-page peer-reviewed report.