Global CO2 Spike Spurs Hottest June on Record, Extreme Weather For US

According to NOAA, the United States just experienced its hottest June ever recorded in the whole of the national climate record starting 122 years ago in 1895. That’s an average temperature of 71.8 F (22.1 C) across the contiguous United States — or 3.3 F (1.83 C) hotter than a typical June.

NOAA Record heat

(The United States just experienced its hottest June on record. The extreme heat comes alongside a period of record global warmth and helped to spur numerous extreme weather events across the country. Image source: NOAA.)

The new national June record broke the old record set back in 1933 and comes amidst a 13 month long streak of record hot months in the NOAA Climate measure. The record US heat also coincided with an extreme Southwestern heatwave, an apparently unquenchable California drought, record low Lake Mead water levels amidst a 16 year drought in the Colorado River basin, severe US wildfires, and the worst flooding in a hundred years to strike West Virginia.

Record heat — both at the national and at the global level — is a well-known driver of extreme weather events such as wildfires, droughts, and deluges. And NOAA shows that six of the past nine years have seen far above average damages due to severe weather — with 2016 tracking near the all time worst year (2011) for number of billion + dollar disaster events. Meanwhile, extreme weather attribution studies are increasingly providing a physical science basis for linking single and regional events with the larger global warming trend.

Heat Driven By Spiking Carbon Dioxide Levels

At the same time that national temperatures were hitting new record highs, average carbon dioxide levels measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory saw record rates of rise for the month. According to NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory, June of 2016 saw average carbon dioxide levels that were 4.01 parts per million higher than June of 2015. That’s a huge jump in the atmospheric concentration of a greenhouse gas that rose by about 1 part per million every year during the 1960s and during recent years has risen by an average of about 2 parts per million.


(NASA graphic provides a stark paleoclimate contrast to the human carbon dioxide spike. The current rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 levels is faster than at any time in the last 60 million years and, possibly, faster than for any period in which life occupied planet Earth. Image source: NASA.)

Last year saw a record annual rate of atmospheric CO2 increase of around 3.05 parts per million. But the first six months of 2016 have so far greatly outstripped even 2015’s nasty rise — currently tracking 3.59 parts per million above the first six months of the previous year.

Record global greenhouse gas levels and a spike that is essentially vertical on geological timescales are, in greatest portion, driven by human fossil fuel emissions. These spiking levels of heat trapping gasses, in turn, drive extreme global temperatures and related severe weather events. But as the world’s land and ocean surfaces heat up, they tend to also draw in less of the human carbon emission even as they emit more. Expanding deserts, worsening wildfires, expanding ocean hot pools and thawing permafrost all add to this vicious cycle. And it’s possible that we’re starting to see rumor of these amplifying feedbacks starting to kick in now. Which makes the continued burning of fossil fuel that drives the whole vicious cycle an ever more dangerous prospect.




June Swoon — US Breaks Another Monthly Temperature Record

Bad Rains Fall Across the Globe

Water Knives in the Near Future

US Drought Monitor

Humans are Likely Culprits of Southern European Droughts

Scientific hat tip to Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to Greg

Hat tip to Suzanne

Leave a comment


  1. Jeremy

     /  July 7, 2016

    (Wur Doomed Video taken down — not loading properly)

  2. Jeremy

     /  July 7, 2016

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  July 8, 2016

      As Jonesy would say, ‘Don’t panic! Don’t panic!’.

  3. NSIDC reports:
    – June set another satellite-era record low for average sea ice extent, despite slower than average rates of ice loss. [My emphasis]

    – June extent was 260,000 square kilometers (100,000 square miles) below the previous record set in 2010, and 1.36 million square kilometers (525,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average.

  4. Ken Provost

     /  July 7, 2016

    I like how the NASA graph goes back 400,000 years, but the text calls it “centuries” 🙂

    • Highest in at least 4,000 Centuries 🙂

      It should go back to the Pliocene-Miocene boundary which would make it about 130,000 Centuries. Or tens of thousands of Centuries by the figurative count.

  5. Getting worse every month: sort of like free-fall.

    • Monthly CO2 departures for 2016 vs 2015 are:

      Jan 2.56
      Feb 3.76
      Mar 3.31
      Apr 4.16
      May 3.76
      Jun 4.01

      These should dial back through the end of this year as the El Nino related pulse fades. If it does not, then we’ll know there’s something else going on.

      • Robert
        Like you said, just plain nuts. Please revisit in December or January. Since methane levels are not falling, lots is being converted to CO2. One molecule CO2 for one molecule CH4. At a mean CH4 of 1850 ppb, that’s 1.85 ppm but over how much time?

        • Per my recollection, one molecule lasts 8 years approx. There’s a molar calculation for you. Find and solve for the CH4 + hydroxyl reaction equation.

      • Cate

         /  July 8, 2016

        Robert, for perspective, can you include the monthly CO2 departures for 2015 over 2014?

        • Jan through Jun monthly departures for 2014 to 2015 as follows:

          Jan 2.65
          Feb 2.33
          Mar 1.9
          Apr 1.92
          May 2.06
          Jun 1.6

          Average 6 mo departure 2.076

          Second half of 2015 was very strong. This coincided with El Niño and related ocean hot pools as well as a big build toward NH polar amplification.

  6. – CC – USA – “… the U.S. military doesn’t play politics with climate change and energy security, because it doesn’t have that luxury.”

    General Keys: The military thinks climate change is serious

    9:50: “We’ve got a lot of bases around the world, and there are a lot of them that are on the coast. And so we start to look at: What are the impacts of climate change on basing? Because just as you live in a village or city, a town, that’s what we live in. Our ports and our forts and our bases. And we have looked at the situation seriously, and we have 19 bases that we consider jewels in our crown of capability that are going to be affected by sea level rise. And it doesn’t have to rise eight feet. It only has to rise a couple of inches, and a good nor’easter pulls in, and all of a sudden we’re under water. If you look at Langley Air Force Base where our Raptors reside, it’s only seven feet above mean sea level right now. The problem is, the land is subsiding, sea level is rising, the currents are changing.

    – General Ron Keys, United States Air Force (ret), in his capacity as Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security and Chairman of the CNA Advisory Board, recently opened up the annual Common Good Forum with an excellent speech titled “Planning for Disaster – Climate Change and National Security.” In the speech, General Keys emphasized that the U.S. military doesn’t play politics with climate change and energy security, because it doesn’t have that luxury. The U.S. military looks at both climate change and energy security through the lens of how they effect its capacity to do its job…

    • – Robert, these sort of dynamics should be helpful to include in a SLR/airport vulnerability related post:

      “… the land is subsiding, sea level is rising, the currents are changing.”
      – Gen. R K (ret).

      • Thanks DT.

        So I’ve been working on the SLR post and it’s taking a long time. I’m about 1/3 of the way through and trying to think about how to tie in various bits and pieces. At the same time, we’ve got all this pop up news that I feel I need to cover. Hope to get it out by tomorrow.

        I should also be writing about green goo in the gulf, and dead trees in California and about five other things I just forgot.

  7. – It makes sense, it does. And it fosters habitat and bio-diversity on the shore.

    “Living Shorelines” Will Get Fast Track to Combat Sea Level Rise

    Wetlands, sand dunes and mangroves could protect shorelines more inexpensively than walls and bulkheads

    As sea levels rise along U.S. coasts, it may soon get easier for people and local governments to obtain federal permits to build what are known as “living shorelines,” natural or nature-based structures designed to protect communities and infrastructure from extreme storms and flooding even as they protect habitat.

    The Army Corps of Engineers is considering a new category to its nationwide permits that would allow speedier approval of living shorelines, which include wetlands with sea and marsh grasses, sand dunes, mangroves, and coral reefs.

  8. – Strong typhoon winds in action:

  9. “The oceans are where a lot of chemical reactions take place…”

    Airborne mission to explore the global atmosphere
    -NASA’s Earth Science News Team

    Ice sheets, deserts, rivers, islands, coasts and oceans – the features of Earth’s surface are wildly different, spread across a vast geography. The same is true for Earth’s thin film of atmosphere and the mix of gases it holds, although the details are invisible to human eyes. Pollutants emitted to the atmosphere – soot, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides – are dispersed over the whole globe, but remote regions are cleaner, by factors of 1000 or more, than areas near the continents. A new NASA airborne campaign aims to map the contours of the atmosphere as carefully as explorers once traced the land and oceans below.

    “We’ve had many airborne measurements of the atmosphere over land, where most pollutants are emitted, but land is only a small fraction of the planet,” said Michael Prather, an atmospheric scientist and ATom’s deputy project scientist at University of California Irvine. “The oceans are where a lot of chemical reactions take place…

  10. climatehawk1

     /  July 8, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

  11. johnho

     /  July 8, 2016

    How is this affecting agriculture?


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