Drum roll, please... And we’ve done it again! May 2016 is the hottest May on record. Yep, we’re not that surprised either, depressingly. Even with one of the strongest El Niños ever recorded finally on the decline, the planet has been continuing to warm up, making it the eighth month in a row to break the monthly temperature record, according to NASA.
The latest figures released by NASA now make it even more certain that 2016 will also become the hottest year on record, a record that was only set last year. They found that May was 0.93°C (1.67°F) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 average, which is actually the first month since October last year that the monthly average was not a full 1°C (1.6°F) warmer than the baseline. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that things are getting better.
The Arctic is really feeling the brunt of it all. The sea ice has fallen to a record low for May, stoking fears that this year will break the 2012 record of the worst ever summer ice melt. This has been coupled with the glaciers in Greenland melting at a record rate, with the ice sheets experiencing temperatures normally associated with summer as early as April this year. In fact, there have been so many anomalously warm days in the Arctic over the last year that it is genuinely off the chart.
While the average global temperature is now sitting around 1°C (1.6°F) hotter, the far North is warming at a much faster rate. Finland, for example, found that the average May temperature was between 3 and 4°C (5.4 and 7.2°F) warmer, while in Alaska things are even more extreme as, according to the NOAA, this winter came in at an astonishing 10°C (16°F) above average.
Exactly how these absurdly warm temperatures will manifest themselves apart from the melting of the ice is still unknown, but is it expected to have disastrous effects on the wildlife in the region. Polar bears, for example, are already spending more and more time on land, and coming into increased contact with their brown bear cousins.
In a statement that really goes without saying, the Director of Geneva’s World Climate Research Programme has said: “The state of the climate so far this year gives us much cause for alarm. The super El Niño is only partly to blame. Abnormal is the new normal.”
The NOAA are set to release their figures this Friday, and according to their data, this will be the 12th month in a row that the monthly temperature records have been smashed.