August 2016 Sets Record As Hottest Month So Far: NASA
This past August has set new, record-breaking global temperatures that almost exceeded previous numbers, according to a NASA report published Monday, Sept. 12.
August 2016 was the hottest August since record-keeping began in the 1880s, NASA researchers say.
Readings from thermometers and other sources show that the month was 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (0.98 degrees Celsius) hotter than the average August temperature from 1951 to 1980.
It's also 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit (0.16 degrees Celsius) hotter than the second-hottest August, which had been recorded in 2014.
Furthermore, the August 2016 global temperature tied with July for the warmest month ever recorded, the study revealed.
NASA says August 2016 marks the 11th consecutive month in which monthly average temperature records have been broken.
It will also likely be the 16th consecutive month of record-breaking temperatures, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated. NOAA will release its own analysis of the global August temperatures this week.
Beating 2015 For Warmest Year
Whichever way you measure it, however, the current heat streak puts 2016 in the running to beat 2015 as the warmest year on record, climate scientists warn.
What's more, increasing temperatures are already having impacts across the planet, affecting polar ice caps and overheated seafloors, researchers say.
Past reports have linked increasing temperatures to rising sea levels that could accelerate flooding along coasts. The flood that devastated the state of Louisiana in August is just one example, experts say.
At the same time, ice in the Arctic regions has melted to the second-lowest extent on record, with open water estimated to approach the North Pole.
Scientists say the warmth in the past two years has been triggered by human-induced climate change and boosted by the El Niño event, which has now subsided.
However, the record heat continues to surge. Scientists have predicted the beginning of a La Niña event in the parts of the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean, but so far, it has been no show.
Meanwhile, Gavin Schmidt, director for NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and one of the researchers in the report, says monthly temperature rankings vary only by a few hundredths degree but are incredibly fragile.
"We stress that the long-term trends are the most important for understanding the ongoing changes that are affecting our planet," says Schmidt.
The monthly average temperature analysis conducted by the GISS team is based on publicly available records gathered by about 6,300 meteorological stations from all over the world, as well as from Antarctic research stations. Details of the study are disclosed on the GISS website.