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Driven by Ocean Heat, World Sets Mark for Hottest June

The world just experienced its hottest June on record. The heat was driven in large by part by the hottest ocean temperatures since recordkeeping began more than 130 years ago. That makes this the third-warmest start to the year.

The global temperature was 1.3°F above the 20th century average in June according to data released on Monday by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). That bests the previous hottest June record, set in 1998, by 0.05°F.

A map showing global temperature data for June 2014
Credit: National Climatic Data Center

June was the 352nd consecutive month in a row with temperatures that were above the global average. The last cooler-than-average month was February 1985, the month of “Careless Whisperer.” The June hot streak extends back even further, with the last cool June coming in 1976 when people were grooving to Wings’ chart topper, “Silly Love Songs.”

The lengthy stretch of hot months is being driven primarily by the rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Human activities are responsible for much of that rise and with recent carbon dioxide milestones passed, emissions show no sign of slowing.

Regionally, there were a few particularly hot spots. Notably, New Zealand had its hottest June as did large part of East Africa and chunks of Southeast Asia. There were a limited number of cool spots, mostly in Alaska, which baked through the first five months of the year, and far eastern Siberia.

When looking at land areas only, this was the 7th-hottest June. Temperatures averaged over land were 1.7°F above average.

It’s the ocean surface temperatures that put the month over the top. Temperatures were 1.2°F above average. That’s a smaller number than the 1.7°F land averages, but oceans tend to lag behind air temperatures. And despite being a smaller number, oceans cover 70 percent of the planet, which tend to give them more weight on global temperatures.

This June represents a significant milestone for the world’s oceans. Not only was it the hottest June for oceans since record keeping began in 1880, but it was the most anomalously warm ocean temperature for any month. That means temperatures were more freakishly above average this past June than at any other time in the period of record. The previous record was a four-way tie with May 2014 being the most recent month.

This June’s temperature record also represents a global mark for the warmest the oceans have ever been. The record heat happened to hit in June, when oceans are at their warmest, giving temperatures a further boost.

The news comes on the heels of last week’s State of the Climate report, an annual climate check-up for the globe. The report showed that 2013 saw record amounts of heat trapped in the upper half mile of the ocean, a phenomenon that scientists think is contributing to the “pause” in global warming.

Of course, talking about a “pause” is a bit of an overstatement. This year is on track to be the third-warmest. NCDC also said that 9 of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2000 (with 1998 being the lone holdout).

El Niño, the climate phenomenon on the tip of every weather geeks’ tongue, has the potential to ratchet up the global temperature even further by year’s end. Though there’s been an El Niño watch in place for months, the phenomenon, which is characterized by warm waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, has yet to form. Forecasters give it a 75 percent chance of forming by fall, though, which could make the year end on a hot note. Whether it would be enough to overtake 2010, the year of “Tik Tok,” as the hottest year on the record remains to be seen.

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By James
on July 21st, 2014

Strange, here in Missouri it has been unbelievably cool.  When my wife and I were out watching fireworks we actually had to get under a blanket.  I don’t think we’ve topped 100° yet when normally we are having temperatures of at least that much regularly this time of year.  Not sure how that leaves our temperature at average but ok.

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By Etan Hall (Irvine/CA/92614)
on July 21st, 2014

I assume that by “watching fireworks” you’re referring to the Fourth of July. The data presented here concerns June. And, what is the relevance of not having topped 100° yet? What is the relevance of the temperature “this time of year”? The data concerns JUNE.

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By Jim
on July 22nd, 2014

James, you have a truly scientific way of measuring climate change.

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By Daniel Carter (53118)
on July 22nd, 2014

James, the map shows Missouri as “average,” because June (not July, when you were under a blanket) was roughly average in Missouri. I looked at the Columbia records for June, and 16/30 highs and 22/30 lows were at least a little above average (the early June average highs are in the upper seventies, and they are in the 80s by the end of the month…lows average in the low to mid 60s for June). All you have to do is look at the archived climate data. It is also not “regularly” above 100 this time of year. That only usually happens a few/several times over the whole summer. Highs in the 90s, which happened a few times in June, are above average.

Also, the size of the pixels on the map is larger than Missouri, so the average was calculated for a larger area.

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By Thomas
on July 22nd, 2014

Hey James. How’s it going?  Seemed like you need a little help understanding this article and the data it contains.  Had this been an article about the average temperature of Missouri or even new jersey where I live your grievance my be more legitimate.  The average temperature that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration arrives to is based on temperature records from many meteorological stations around the world and weather buoys around the world’s oceans among other things.  This gives NOAA an accurate approximation of world temperature.  To put it more simply, while some parts of the U.S like Missouri experienced relatively cooler temperatures (cooler than already inflated averages due to AGW), other parts of the world and ocean are experiencing much warmer temperatures than usual which boost the global average.  The data collected and interpreted by NOAA supports this.  Hope that was clarifying. 

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By Roger (94708)
on July 22nd, 2014

I am already hearing deniers saying this is false because NOAA and climate scientists have been going back and altering the old data to make it seem warmer now, and that it was warmer in the 1930’s than it now is.  Somebody at Climate central needs to use the old data and methods for older AND current measurements to show us whether this is a valid criticism.  What would the calculations tell us if not for these adjustments?  The result should be prominently featured on CC’s homepage for all to readily decide whether this criticism is valid.  I doubt it is, but have no way of refuting the critics like the radio show I heard 10 minutes ago.
The deniers will use any opening they get to argue it is a hoax.  The altering of the historic data gives them such an opening.  It needs to be shut.

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By Victor (Bucharest)
on July 22nd, 2014

Also here, in Europe, June was a terribly cold month, with lots of rain and bad weather. The map shows “average” and that’s a big lie.

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By Daniel Carter
on July 23rd, 2014

Victor, maybe the new climate has messed up your concept of average. I looked at Munich, Germany’s June temperatures for this year, and the overall mean was slightly above average. Fifteen out of thirty days had high temperatures at least a little above average (much of the second week of June was much above average). Seven of thirty days had above average lows, but the days with colder lows were not as below normal as the days with above average highs were above normal.

In Glasgow, UK highs were above average on 25/30 days and lows were above average on 19/30 days.

In Madrid, Spain highers were above average on 22/30 days and lows were above average on 15/30 days.

So I guess you might have just left your refrigerator door open.

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By Morris Olitsky (Havertown, PA 19083)
on July 22nd, 2014

Look at the chart: average temperature has been flat, not rising, since 2000.  This was pointed out by the New York Times and the Economist as well.  So what happened to “global warming”?

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By Daniel Carter (53118)
on July 22nd, 2014

1) The chart shows anomalies—not averages. 2) The chart highlights how El Nino/La Nina explains are informative to consider. 3) Climatological averages are periods of 30 years or more, so it is meaningless to look at such a short period (i.e. since 2000). It is instead prudent to use all of the data at our disposal rather than to cherry pick a few years on a graph. Finally, not all heat goes into the temperature of surface waters or air. Some is translocated by ocean currents into the deep ocean…where it isn’t gone, but it’s stored away to be dealt with later. Along those lines, there is pretty good chance the next year dominated by El Nino will be warming than most, if not all, of the previous El Nino years.

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By C.P. (Seattle, WA 98199)
on July 23rd, 2014

If periods less than 30 years are meaningless, then why did the U.N.‘s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change base a whole series of reports and forecasts on much shorter time frames. And tell us, where are the historical records of deep ocean temperatures, and how were they collected?

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By Glen
on July 22nd, 2014

Morris, you fail to see the what is most obvious.

1. 3 La Nina years damping the warming trend at the end. Even those 3 La Ninas are warmer than all years in the graph prior to 1998, warmer than even the El Ninos.
2. The 3 types of years (El Nino, neutral, La Nina) progressively getting hotter
3. 2005, though being a neutral year (grey bars), was hotter than the super El Nino year of 1998.

There will be periods where either El Nino or La Nina dominate in the future resulting in periods of acceleration and deceleration of warming just as we have seen over the last 20 years. A generalised warming continues in the background which will ensure a continuation of the long term trend in atmospheric and ocean warming.

I don’t value New York Times and Economist ‘views’ more highly than the scientific literature and neither should you.

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By zammy (39102)
on July 27th, 2014

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By nelson carman (penfield, ny 14526)
on July 29th, 2014

can you recommend the website that reports in depth on non climate change.plz.

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