Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month. May 2019 marked not only Earth’s fourth warmest May but also closed out the planet’s second warmest March-May season on record.
According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for May – over both land and sea surfaces – was 60.13°F, which is 1.53°F above the 20th-century average. This May also marked the 413th consecutive month with a global 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 March, April, and May – meteorological spring in the northern hemisphere – was also unusually warm. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 1.73°F above the 20th century average of 56.7°F. That makes it the second warmest such period on record. It is also important to note that the five warmest March-May periods have all occurred since 2015.
While heat dominated most of the planet this season, some places were particularly warm, including Alaska and western Canada. For the contiguous US as a whole, this spring was close to average and ranked in the middle third of the national record.
To put this disparity into context, consider that the United States constitutes less than 2% of the total surface of the Earth. This detail also highlights the fact that climate change is a complex global phenomenon that involves much more than the short-term weather conditions that are happening in any one part of the world.
Year to date, the first five months of 2019 were the third warmest such period of any year on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.