UPDATE: August 2016: Warmest Month Ever Recorded

Instead of continuing to fill my blog’s database with new entries, I’m just going to update this old one.


Annual global temperatures; each line indicates a year, spanning 1880-2016
Click here to see it full size
(NASA/Gavin Schmidt)

NASA’s global temperature average dataset was released a couple of days ago; it shows that August 2016 has tied with July 2016 as the warmest month ever recorded (and, perhaps obviously, set the August record).

This is significant because July is typically the warmest month of the year, when comparing global averages.

“Until October 2015, no month had ever varied more than 1°C from the 1951-1980 average. The coldest months were less than one degree colder than average, and the hottest months were less than one degree hotter.

But every month since then has shattered that threshold: October 2015 was 1.06°C above average, November was 1.03°C above, then 1.10°C in December, 1.14°C in January, and now 1.35°C in February.”

A significant side-story to this is that the four leading U.S. presidential candidates were recently asked 20 science questions, including about climate change. Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein both answered smartly — “the science is crystal clear.. climate change is an urgent threat…” from Clinton and “Climate change is the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced” from Stein. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson did not respond to any of the questions. Republican candidate Donald Trump managed to answer without repeating his previous claim that global warming is a “hoax”, but began with “There is still much that needs to be investigated…” and the rest of his answer was unrelated to climate change while still sounding nice (ensuring clean water, fighting diseases like malaria, moving away from fossil fuels). But on another question, he answered that the most important thing is making sure America is “prosperous”, and in the past he’s never been shy about saying global warming is a “hoax” (in complete agreement with many of his supporters).

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Locally, here in Killeen, Texas, August 2016 was the coolest August of the last seven — I don’t have access to records before that — and was even cooler than July 2016, which is atypical for Central Texas. I draw no broader conclusions from my seven-year dataset, other than being frustrated that more historical data isn’t available for our area.

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First Update, 2016.08.19, 10:07 CDT:

UPDATED TITLE:
July 2016: Warmest Month Ever Recorded


Annual global temperatures; each line indicates a year, spanning 1880-2016
Click here to see it full size
(NASA/Gavin Schmidt)

July 2016 was the warmest month ever recorded. Not just the warmest July on record, but the warmest month, period.

Note the chart pictured at right (or above, if you’re viewing this on a small mobile device). The red line above all the others represents the monthly global temperature averages for 2016. Notice how the entire line is above all the other lines?

Depending on which dataset analyses (NOAA’s or NASA’s) are used, July 2016 was either the 15th consecutive month of record-breaking temperatures or the 10th.

“It’s a little alarming to me that we’re going through these records like nothing this year,” said Jason Furtado, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.

Locally, here in Killeen, Texas, July 2016 was the second-warmest July ever recorded, behind July 2011. While July 2016’s temperature average was below what we usually see in August, it did beat several recent Augusts. Here, 2011 saw the hottest summer on record, while 2012 was the warmest year overall.

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Original entry, 2016.07.20, 08:07 CDT:

PREVIOUS TITLE:
Another Broken Record, Again (June 2016)

I’m starting to sound like a broken record (an idiom that the next generation probably won’t understand because they didn’t grow up with vinyl records), but that’s only because we keep breaking records.

June 2016 was the warmest ever recorded when it comes to global averages. This breaks the record set by last June. In fact, this is the 14th consecutive month to have broken a monthly record — and that streak of 14 is itself a record.

And the January-through-June period in 2016 was the warmest January-through-June period in recorded history.

You’ll remember that 2015 was the warmest year in history, breaking the record set by 2014. Scientists are already saying that 2016 will beat both of them, extrapolating from the first six months. Gavin Schmidt, climate scientist and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said, “2016 has really has blown that [2015] out of the water… we have roughly a 99 percent chance of a new record in 2016.”

The consequences of a continually warming planet will be the same, regardless of what people believe the cause to be. Rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers, disappearing ice caps, thawing tundra (which releases more greenhouse gases, by the way), accelerated desertification, and more. Even if people eventually come to believe — as most scientists already do — that at least part of the reason for the warming is humanity’s release of greenhouse gases, it might be too late to avoid most of the damage.

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Locally, June 2016 here in Killeen, Texas, was warmer than the past two years, but cooler than the four Junes before that. Only one day broke the 100°F barrier, which is fairly mild in my experience (we average 3.71). But all seven of the Junes in my records are warmer than any Junes in the 20th Century, according to local weather records that I’ve looked through.

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