Record Numbers Grow; Fourth-Warmest June in History

June 2012 was not only the planet's fourth warmest June since record-keeping began in 1880, but also the 36th consecutive June and the 328th month in a row that global temperatures have risen above the 20th century average, reported the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Monday in the agency’s monthly State of the Climate report.

The last time any month came in under that 20th century average, in other words, was early in the second Reagan administration — and the last time any June was below average, Gerald Ford was president.

Global temperature anomalies during June 2012. Credit: NOAA.

That’s the average for the world as a whole; some places were actually cooler than average, NOAA said, including Australia, northern and western Europe and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. But much of the rest of the planet was much warmer than average — especially the land surface, which came in at 1.93°F above the 20th century average of 55.9° (the sea surface, by contrast was 0.85° higher than the 61.5° average).

Monday’s report comes on the heel’s of last week’s announcement from NOAA that for the lower 48 states of the U.S. it was warmest 12 months and the warmest first half of the year since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.

In addition, NOAA said the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean lost 2.86 million square miles of ice in June, the biggest June loss since satellites began keeping track in 1979. That leaves the ice at its second-smallest June extent, after 2010.

In the Antarctic, by contrast, sea ice extent was the 10th largest in the past 34 years.

While 56 percent of the U.S was in drought conditions — the greatest extent ever recorded by the U.S. Drought Monitor — the United Kingdom had its wettest June since national records began in 1910. For England and Wales, whose records go back much farther, this June tied with 1860 as the wettest since the year1766.

When June’s numbers were added in, the planet finished the 11th warmest first half of the year since 1880.