Here we go again, folks! July was the hottest July on record, August the hottest August, so I bet you can’t fathom what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has to say about the September that closed out the hottest summer on record. You guessed it!
This week, NOAA gave us its monthly state-of-the-climate report, once again, planet Earth bested the statistical odds. The likelihood that seven of the nine months this year so far would be the hottest in NOAA’s 136 years of bookkeeping is astronomically small, unless this is indicative of some sort of trend. Which, of course, it absolutely is. We’ve seen enough record-smashing heat waves, 500 year droughts and mega-fires of late to know that something is seriously up with our planet’s thermostat.
This September, Earth clocked in at 1.62°F (0.90°C) hotter than our global average September temperature for the 20th century (59ºF, 15.0°C). September 2015 also saw the greatest temperature departure from its 20th century mean among all months on record (in other words, we just lived through the most unusually warm month of all). Large regions of Earth’s land surface were much warmer than average, as can be seen in the image below.
For the United States, it was actually only the second warmest September on record, with temperatures 3.7°F (2.1°C) above their 20th century mean.
Image Credit: NOAA
Strong El Niño conditions and the resultant warm water blob over the Pacific are certainly contributing to the global heatwave. But even when you compare this year with 1997, the last time a powerful El Niño occurred, Earth is still looking too toasty. In fact, we’re well on our way to stealing 2014’s title as the hottest year in recorded history. Says Climate Central:
The odds that 2015 will be the warmest year on record have been set at 93 percent by NASA and 97 percent by NOAA, using slightly different methods. Those numbers are based solely on the warmth so far this year and how it compares to the overall annual averages of the total record — essentially, the ability of the last three months of the year to bring down the average are extremely limited.
The only thing that could stop us now is a dramatic global cooling episode over the next few months, which is going to take a wacky geo-engineering scheme, a couple of well-timed volcanic eruptions, or alien intervention. So I’m gonna go ahead and call it. Beers on me if I’m wrong?
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Top image: Shutterstock