2019 On Track to Be Earth's Third Warmest Year on Record, NOAA Says

Jonathan Erdman
Published: June 18, 2019
Global year-to-date temperature anomalies in 2019 (black trace) compared to the ten warmest years on record. Through May, only 2016 and 2017 started out warmer than 2019.
(NOAA/NCEI)

The first five months of 2019 have been among Earth's top three warmest in 140 years of temperature records, according to a just-released analysis.

NOAA said Tuesday that global average temperatures across all land and ocean surfaces were third warmest for any January-through-May period, ranking only behind 2016 and 2017, in records dating to 1880.

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Parts of central and southern Africa, southeast Asia, southern Brazil, the western Pacific Ocean, the Barents Sea, northwest Canada and northeast Alaska were among the areas that experienced a record warm first five months of 2019, according to NOAA.

Australia shattered its record warm January-May period in 2019, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology noted.

This was despite notable cold over a swath of Canada and the central United States. It was the seventh coldest January-May on record in South Dakota.

January - May 2019 surface temperature departure from average, in degrees Celsius. Darker red/blue colors indicate areas progressively warmer/cooler than the 1981-2010 average.
(NOAA/NCEI)

Robert Rohde, lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, said 2019 has a 75% chance of being second warmest year on record, based on projections.

May 2019 Among the Top 5 Warmest Mays

NOAA's report also found May 2019 was the fourth warmest May in their 140-year database, behind only May 2016, 2015 and 2017.

NASA (tie for third warmest), Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service (third warmest) and the Japanese Meteorological Agency (fifth warmest) also found May 2019 among the warmest Mays on record.

(MORE: May Was Second Wettest Month in the Lower 48 States)

Monthly global temperature departures from 1951-1980 average over the globe, in degrees Celsius, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies GISTEMP analysis.
(NASA/GISS)

May temperatures were most above average over parts of the Canadian Arctic, western Greenland and the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas north of Alaska, according to NASA, where sea ice extent set record lows for May and early June.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center found sea ice coverage over the Arctic to be second lowest on record for May, behind only 2016.

Antarctic sea ice coverage set a record low for May, 510,000 square miles below average, according to the NSIDC, an area unusually lacking ice roughly twice the size of Texas.

Africa sweated through its second hottest May, topped only by 2015, and Hawaii set its record hottest May, topping its record from 1940, NOAA's report said.

May also marked the 413th consecutive month and 43rd straight May that global temperatures have been above average in NOAA's database.

It was also the 15th straight month landing in the top five warmest respective month in NASA's database, a streak that began in March 2018.

Since 2015, 49 of the last 53 months have at least tied a top five warmest respective month, according to NASA-GISS. From June 2015 through August 2016, 11 separate months set warm records for the month.

Rankings of monthly global temperatures, according to the NASA-GISS database since 2015. Circled '1s' highlight months setting a record high temperature for the month. Ties among months during those four-plus years are indicated by the same ranking given to each month.
(Data: NASA/GISS; Table: Infogram)

Ultimately, what's most important is not whether a given month is a fraction of a degree warmer or colder; rather, it's the overall trend, which continues its upward climb since the late 1970s.


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