Oceans fuel record warmth for May 2014

May 2014 - the warmest May on recored - so farIn its most recent State of the Climate Report released on Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that May 2014 was the hottest May on record. The combined average global ocean/land surface  temperature for the month was 59.93º Fahrenheit (15.51 Celsius) 1.33º Fahrenheit (0.74 C) above the 20th century average of 58.6º F (14.8 C). The hot May comes on the heals of record heat for April, tying 2010 as the warmest April on record. The previous record for May was also in 2010. 

Separating land and ocean temperature averages confirms where much of this heat is going – the oceans. Ocean surface temperatures for May 2014 were the hottest on record, 1.06º F above the 20th century average. Land surface temperatures in May were 2.03º above the 20th century average, but in fourth place as the hottest average global land surface temperatures on record.

The United States, which experienced a bitterly cold winter in some parts, saw a more moderate average temperature, coming in as the 32nd warmest May on record. It was a different story globally, with record heat ranging across Indonesia, Australia, Norway, South Korea and, as noted, the world’s ocean basins:

“The majority of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with record warmth across eastern Kazakhstan, parts of Indonesia and central and northwestern Australia,” the NOAA said in its report. “Scattered sections across every major ocean basin were also record warm.”

Last month was the 351st consecutive month with global average temperatures above the 20th century average. The last time May had below average temperatures was in 1976.

March-May period second warmest on record

The three-month period from March to May 2014 was the second warmest on record, behind 2010, with combined land and ocean surface temperatures 1.33º F above the 20th century average of 56.7º F. For the five month period from January to May 2014, combined land/ocean temperatures were 1.19º F above the 20th century average of 55.5º F or the fifth warmest January-May period on record.

“With the exception of February…” the NOAA reports, “each monthly temperature in 2014 to date has ranked among the four highest for its respective month.”

NOAA’s dataset for May’s record warmth was also corroborated by the Japan Meteorological Agency, reporting the hottest spring on record.

graphic courtesy of NOAA

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