Our global temperature continued its seemingly unending upward trend last month with November 2015 marking not only the warmest November on record, but also closing out the warmest meteorological autumn ever recorded for the entire planet.
According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 56.95°F, which is a whopping 1.75°F above the 20th century average. It surpassed the previous record set in 2013 by 0.27°F and was the second highest departure from average for any month ever recorded. The highest departure (1.79°F) occurred last month. November also marked the seventh consecutive month this year to break a monthly temperature record.
The three-month period of September, October, and November – known as the meteorological autumn in the northern hemisphere – was also a record breaker. The planet’s temperature for the season was 58.83°F, which is 1.73°F above average. That is also 0.38°F above the previous record that was set just last year.
While heat dominated most of the planet this autumn, some places were particularly warm, including North America. Here in the contiguous US, with a seasonal temperature of 56.8°F, which is 3.3°F above average, it was our warmest autumn on record. The previous record was set in 1962.
Although strong El Niño conditions –a periodic natural climate phenomenon – helped fuel this record warmth, it does not tell the whole story. The long-term trend of human-caused climate change was also a key factor. NOAA reports that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have occurred since 2000 and they were not all El Niño years.
Year to date, the first eleven months of 2015 were the warmest of any year on record. At this point, December’s global temperature will have to be significantly below average to prevent 2015 from surpassing 2014 as the warmest year ever recorded on this planet. Global temperature records date back to 1880.