The monthly global temperature records just keep falling…
Despite no El Nino declared, an extraordinarily hot global ocean surface keeps dumping heat back into the atmosphere. This transfer resulted in the hottest March-through-May period in the global record and has pushed numerous record spikes in the global measures this summer. By August, according to NASA, the global average had again climbed to never-before-seen levels.
As of yesterday’s report, NASA showed that the Global Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Index had climbed to 0.70 degrees Celsius above the mid 20th Century average and about 0.95 degrees Celsius above the 1880s average. The previous record high for the period was set in 2011 at 0.69 degrees C above the global 1951 to 1980 average.
(Global surface temperature departures according to NASA GISS. Image source: NASA.)
Throughout the world, global ocean surface temperatures showed extraordinary departures above average for the month. Greater variance was experienced over continental land masses and over the polar regions.
Zonal anomalies showed far greater heat amplification near the southern polar region, especially in the region near 80 south latitude. In the Northern Hemisphere the tundra region near 60 north latitude focusing in Northeast Siberia near the methane emitting zone of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, the region north of the Caspian Sea, and Baffin Bay and Northeast Canada showed the greatest high temperature anomalies. Only the high Arctic and regions in or near the southern ocean showed widespread and significant cooler than average zonal readings.
You can see these zonal anomalies in the graph provided by NASA below:
(Temperature departures by latitudinal zone. Image source: NASA.)
A Catastrophic Pace of Warming
To understand these record high global temperatures, it is useful to consider the broader paleo-climate context. In this context, the global temperature difference between 1880 and the last ice age was about 5 degrees Celsius. So the current temperature departure, driven by human greenhouse gas emissions, is equal to about 1/5 the difference between the 19th century and an ice age, but on the side of hot.
As it took about 12,000 years for the post ice-age warming to occur, the recorded pace of warming since 1880 is about 20 times faster than that period of extreme Earth system change. With the predicted pace of warming expected to increase even further and with ice sheets still covering the surface of the Earth (which greatly help to mitigate the pace of warming spikes), this current velocity of change is both likely unprecedented and catastrophic.