Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with August 2015 not only marking the warmest August on record, but also closing out the warmest meteorological summer ever recorded for the entire planet.
According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for August – over both land and sea surfaces – was 61.68°F, which is 1.58°F above the 20th century average. It surpassed the previous record set just last year by 0.16°F and was the sixth month this year to break a monthly temperature record. It also marked the 366th consecutive month that our global temperature was above its long-term norm.
Rising ocean temperatures compounded by El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific helped fuel August’s record warmth. The globally averaged sea surface temperature for the month was 1.40°F above the 20th century average, which makes it the highest temperature on record for any month. The previous record was set in July 2015.
The three-month period of June, July and August – known as the meteorological summer in the northern hemisphere – was also a record breaker! NOAA reports that Earth’s combined average temperature for the season – over both land and sea surfaces – was 1.53°F above the 20th century average. That is 0.20°F above the previous record that was set last summer.
While heat dominated most of the planet from June to August, some places were particularly warm, including much of Europe. Austria, France, and Switzerland each experienced their second warmest summer on record and Germany posted its third warmest. Even the southern hemisphere, where it was austral winter, saw warmer than usual conditions. Argentina experienced its warmest winter since national record keeping began there in 1961.
Here in the contiguous US, the summer of 2015 was our 12th warmest on record. While some of the central states saw average to below average temperatures, many of the western states were exceptionally warm. In fact, Oregon and Washington each experienced their warmest summer on record.
Year to date, the first eight months of 2015 were the warmest of any year on record. That puts 2015 on track to becoming Earth’s warmest year ever recorded. Global temperature records date back to 1880.