Jenna Ladd | August 19, 2016
July 2016 has gone down in history as the warmest month recorded since global temperature records began in 1880.
A recently released global analysis from the National Centers for Environmental Information reported that July marks the 15th consecutive month that ocean and land temperature departures from average were highest they have been since 1880. The trend is the longest the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has seen in 137 years of recording.
July 2016 was also the 379th month to have at least marginally higher recorded temperature averages. As July is climatologically the hottest month of the calendar year, the global land and ocean temperature of 16.67°C / 62.01°F was the highest for any recorded month, rising above the previous record of July 2015. On average, July 2016 global land temperatures were 1.10°C /1.98°F higher than 20th century averages.
Marginally or drastically higher temperatures were recorded on nearly all global land masses throughout the month. Record warmth was recorded in Indonesia, southern Asia, and New Zealand. Northwestern and north central parts of the United States, eastern Canada, southern South America, southwestern Australia, north central Russia, Kazakhstan, and India experienced average or nearly cooler than average temperatures.
Scientists point to climate change as an explanation for the extreme natural disasters that have plagued parts of the United States throughout the summer. As temperatures rise, the yearly average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres in the western U.S. has risen to from about 140 in the 1980’s to about 250 from 2000-2012. In the south, extreme flooding has taken the homes and lives of many. Most recently, heavy rainfall in Baton Rouge, LA displaced tens of thousands of residents and killed at least 11 people. David Easterling, a director at the National Centers for Environmental Information, said that the Louisiana flooding “is consistent with what we expect to see in the future if you look at climate models,” he added, “Not just in the U.S. but in many other parts of the world as well.”
The Baton Rouge flood marks the eighth heavy rainfall event since May 2015 wherein the amount of rainfall in a specific place during a certain window of time exceeded NOAA’s scientific prediction of an amount of rainfall that will only fall once every 500 years.