Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with August 2016 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 61.77°F, which is 1.66°F above the 20th-century average. It surpassed the previous record set just last year by 0.09°F.
August 2016 also marked the 16th month in a row to break a monthly global temperature record – the longest such streak on NOAA’s books. Moreover, it was the 380th consecutive month with a temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.
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 average temperature for the season was 1.60°F above the 20th-century average. That is 0.07°F above the previous record that was set in 2015.
While heat dominated most of the planet from June to August, some places were particularly warm, including Asia and Africa where continent-wide temperature records were broken. Here in the contiguous US, the summer of 2016 tied with 2006 as our fifth warmest on record. While every state in the lower-48 experienced above average temperatures, California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were each record warm. Alaska posted its second warmest summer on record.
These soaring temperatures are attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Whereas El Niño gave global temperatures a boost earlier in the year, it dissipated in early June. ENSO-neutral conditions have since prevailed across the tropical Pacific Ocean.
Year to date, the first eight months of 2016 were the warmest of any year on record. This increases the likelihood that 2016 will surpass 2015 as the Earth’s warmest year ever recorded. Global temperature records date back to 1880.