So it seems that we are yet to shatter the streak of record-breaking months this year. The latest figures from NASA show what has now become commonplace to hear: August was the hottest August on record. Not only that though, it also ties with a record set only last month, matching July as the hottest month ever recorded.
This now makes it 11 months straight that each month has been the warmest on record, according to the data set from NASA, who compares it to the 1951-1980 average. They have found August 2016 to be 0.98°C (1.76°F) above this average, and 0.16°C (0.29°F) above the previous hottest August on record that occurred in 2014. This puts it on par with the previous July as being the hottest month in the last 136 years.
The historically large El Niño that developed over the Pacific at the end of last year and continued through much of this year is to blame for some of the extra record-smashing heat that has been experienced this year. But experts also point out that the trend was likely to have occurred regardless. Now that NASA has finally announced El Niño to be over, it will be interesting to see how September compares, and whether or not the intense warming will continue without its influence.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is set to release its figures over the next few days, and while they may differ slightly in the number of months that have broken records due to slightly different baselines used by the NOAA and NASA, the overall trend is startlingly similar.
And it is this trend that the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Gavin Schmidt wants to emphasize. You can quibble all you want about the small differences between months, but the steady upward creep of global temperatures is clear.
“Monthly rankings, which vary by only a few hundredths of a degree, are inherently fragile,” says Schmidt. “We stress that the long-term trends are the most important for understanding the ongoing changes that are affecting our planet.”
With China and the US recently ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement, and Brazil quickly following suit, it seems that perhaps politicians have finally woken up to the threat of climate change, but is it in time? Experts already agree that the target set of limiting warming to below 1.5°C (2.7°F) is basically unachievable unless radical reform is instigated.