News & Politics

Scientist: "We Are Living in the Steroid Era of the Climate System"

June follows a record setting May, making this the third-warmest year to date.

Photo Credit: Bruce Rolff / Shutterstock

June 2014 has become the second consecutive record-setting month for heat, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday. The averge global temperature last month was 61.2°F (16.2°C), which is 0.2°F than 2010, the previously hottest June, and 1.3° degrees higher than the 20th century average. It is the 352nd hotter than average month in a row.

Derek Arndt, NOAA's climate monitoring chief, said unusually hot oceans — especially the Pacific and Indian oceans — were the driving force behind June's heat. 

"We are living in the steroid era of the climate system," Arndt said.

Heat records were broken on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. New Zealand, northern South America, Greenland, Central Africa and Southern Asia were especially hot regions. However, it was only the 33rd hottest June in the U.S.

Global temperature records go back to 1880. To date, the year is third hottest on record — behind 2010 and 1998 — but it could become the hottest year on record if an El Niño weather pattern develops.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center said that there is a 70% chance El Niño will develop by the end of the summer, and an 80% chance that one will develop by the early winter. It's projecting that sea surface temperatures will be warmer than usual but its possible that the effect will be only "weak to moderate."

The forecast strength of the El Niño was downgraded because Pacific Ocean temperatures near the International Date Line have not continued to rise since earlier this year when they were well above average. 

All 12 of the global monthly heat records have been set after 1997, more than half in the last decade. All the coldest months were before 1917.

Cliff Weathers is a former senior editor at AlterNet and served as a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. Twitter @cliffweathers.

 

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