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June does it again: Global temperature sets 14th consecutive monthly record

JINGDEZHEN, CHINA - JUNE 21:  (CHINA OUT) Aerial view image shows flood swamping resident buildings in Nianyushan Town of Changjiang District on June 21, 2016 in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province of China. Downpour fell in south China's Jiangxi Province that many resident buildings near Changjiang Basin were immersed in flood.  (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
JINGDEZHEN, CHINA – JUNE 21: (CHINA OUT) Aerial view image shows flood swamping resident buildings in Nianyushan Town of Changjiang District on June 21, 2016 in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province of China. Downpour fell in south China’s Jiangxi Province that many resident buildings near Changjiang Basin were immersed in flood. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

By Jeff Masters and Bob Henson From Weather Underground

Even with the intense 2015 – 2016 El Niño event out of the picture, June 2016 was still the planet’s warmest June since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Tuesday. In the NOAA database, June 2016 came in 0.90°C (1.62°F) warmer than the 20th-century average for June, beating the previous record for June, set in 2015, by 0.02°C. This ties with May 2016 for the smallest margin the monthly global temperature has broken a record by since August 2015. NASA also reported the warmest June in its database–though just barely–as did the Japan Meteorological Agency. June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month that the global monthly temperature record was broken, which is the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880. The record-warm June extended to both global ocean and global land temperatures in the NOAA database. For the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere, global satellite-measured temperatures in June 2016 were the 2nd warmest for any June in the 38-year record, according to the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

The impressive global warmth in recent months is due to the steady build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases due to human activities, plus a spike due to a large amount of heat being released from waters in the Eastern Pacific due to the powerful 2015-16 El Niño event. This event peaked in December, and NOAA’s global surface temperature for the year so far (January-June 2016) is a remarkable 0.20°C (0.38°F) warmer than the previous record, set in 2015 (see Figure 1). The departure of El Niño and the likely arrival of La Niña should allow temperatures to drop slightly, perhaps breaking our string of record-warm months sometime in the near future, but temperatures would have to plummet between now and December in order to keep 2016 from becoming the warmest year in global record keeping. In May, NASA/GISS director Gavin Schmidt laid 99% odds on 2016 setting a new global temperature record, which would make it Earth’s third consecutive warmest year on record.


Figure 1. Departure from average for the global January-through-June temperature for the years 1880 – 2016. This year has seen by far the warmest temperatures on record for the year-to-date period. Image credit: NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).


Figure 2. Departure of temperature from average for June 2016, the warmest June for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Pockets of record warmth were observed across every major ocean basin and over a few land areas, including parts of the Maritime Continent, the southwest U.S., northeast Africa, and much of the Middle East. The only major land-based region of cooler-than-average temperatures was in central and southern South America. The cool “blob” that had persisted for many months across the far North Atlantic weakened substantially in June. Image credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

El Niño is over; odds of La Niña decreasing

El Niño dissipated in May 2016, giving way to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral conditions as sea surface temperatures continued to cool across the tropical Pacific Ocean during June. According to NOAA’s July ENSO forecast from the Climate Prediction Center, a weak La Niña is favored to develop during the August – October peak of hurricane season. The La Niña odds in the July outlook were 55 – 60%, which is lower than the 75% odds given in the June forecast.


Figure 3. The year-to-date temperature in the Arctic (between 70°N and 90°N, the blue line) set a new record in 2016, at just over 3.5°C (6.3°F) above average. Note how the Arctic has warmed much more rapidly than the mid-latitudes (between 40°N and 60°N, the black line) in recent decades. This process is called “Arctic Amplification”, and has been shown by climate models to occur as a result of human-emitted heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide affecting the climate. Image credit: Dr. Jennifer Francis, Rutgers.

Arctic sea ice hits its lowest June extent on record

June sea ice extent in 2016 was the lowest in the 38-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). So far, March has been the only month in 2016 that has not set a new record low for Arctic-wide sea ice extent (March 2016 was second lowest, just above 2015). However, atmospheric conditions during late June 2016 extending into the first half of July favored low pressure and storminess, resulting in greater than average cloud cover and a slow-down in the Arctic sea ice melt rate. By July 1, Arctic sea was no longer at a record minimum for the date. The latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model shows a continuation of cloudier than usual conditions in the Arctic for the remainder of July, which should keep Arctic sea ice loss not quite as bad as seen during the record-setting retreat in the summer of 2012. The fact that 2016 is still challenging 2012 for lowest sea ice on record is evidence of how “the extraordinary years have become the normal years,” as NASA sea ice scientist Walt Meier stated in an interview last week with the Washington Post.

One billion-dollar weather disaster in June 2016: flooding in China

According to the June 2016 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield, one billion-dollar weather-related disaster hit the planet in June: flooding in China on June 18 – 23 that cost $2.3 billion (this does not include the renewed round of Chinese flooding that began on June 30 extending into early July, which has brought the total cost of this year’s monsoon flooding in China to $22 billion dollars.) Additionally, two severe weather outbreaks in the U.S. during May accumulated enough damage claims to be rated billion-dollar disasters by the end of June. However, the previously reported most expensive weather disaster of 2016—a drought in Vietnam that government of Vietnam said caused $6.75 billion in losses—was reassessed to have caused only $675 million in losses, due to an extra zero the government inadvertently put into its original damage estimate. Between January – June 2016, there have been eighteen billion-dollar weather disasters–one more than occurred during January – June 2013, the year that ended up with the most billion-dollar weather disasters on record: 41. Here is the tally of billion-dollar weather disasters for January – June 2016, updated to include the early July numbers from the Chinese monsoon flooding:

1) Flooding, China, 6/1 – 7/14, $22.0 billion, 273 killed

2) Drought, India, 1/1 – 6/30, $5.0 billion, 0 killed

3) Flooding, Germany, France, Austria, Poland, 5/26 – 6/6, $5.0 billion, 17 killed

4) Severe Weather, Plains-Southeast U.S., 4/10 – 4/13, $3.75 billion, 1 killed

5) Wildfire, Fort McMurray, Canada, 5/2- 6/1, $3.1 billion, 0 killed

6) Winter Weather, Eastern U.S., 1/21 – 1/24, $2.0 billion, 58 killed

7) Winter Weather, East Asia, 1/20 – 1/26, $2.0 billion, 116 killed

8) Severe Weather, Rockies-Plains-Southeast-Midwest U.S., 3/22 – 3/25, $1.75 billion, 0 killed

9) Tropical Cyclone Roanu, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, 5/14 – 5/21, $1.7 billion, 135 killed

10) Drought, Zimbabwe, 1/1 – 3/1, $1.6 billion, 0 killed

11) Flooding, Argentina and Uruguay, 4/4 – 4/10, $1.3 billion, 0 killed

12) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest-Southeast-Northeast U.S., 3/4 – 3/12, $1.25 billion, 6 killed

13) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest-Southeast-Northeast U.S., 2/22 – 2/25, $1.2 billion, 10 killed

14) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest U.S., 4/29 – 5/3, $1.1 billion, 6 killed

15) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest U.S., 5/21 – 5/28, $1.1 billion, 1 killed

16) Flooding, Plains-Rockies U.S., 4/15 – 4/19, $1.0 billion, 9 killed

17) Severe Weather, Plains-Southeast U.S., 3/17 – 3/18, $1.0 billion, 0 killed

18) Tropical Cyclone Winston, Fiji, 2/16 – 2/22, $1.0 billion, 44 killed

And here is the one disaster from June 2016 in more detail:

Disaster 1 (See top image). Southern China, including Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Gansu, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi Zhuang, Chongqing, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan provinces, experienced torrential monsoon rains from June 18 – 23 that caused significant flooding. At least 68 people were dead or missing in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan, and Yunnan, and damage was estimated at $2.3 billion. In this image, we see an aerial view of flooded buildings in Nianyushan Town of Changjiang District, China on June 21, 2016 in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)


Figure 4. As of July 13, 2016, the southwest monsoon had progressed at a near-normal pace across all of India, and had entered into eastern Pakistan. Image credit: India Meteorological Department.

Good monsoon rains in India

India, whose $5 billion drought was Earth’s second most expensive weather-related natural disaster of the first half of 2016, is finally getting a good monsoon after two straight years of poor rains. According to the India Meteorological Department, the monsoon progressed at a near-normal pace across the nation during June and July, and monsoon rains during the period June 1 – July 18 were 3% above average.

Notable global heat and cold marks set for June 2016

Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 52.4°C (126.3°F) at Mitribah, Kuwait, 30 June

Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -27.7°C (-17.9°F) at Geo Summit, Greenland, 2 June

Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 39.5°C (103.1°F) at Picos, Brazil, 4 June

Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -81.6°C (-114.9°F) at Dome Fuji, Antarctica, 13 June

(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)

Major weather stations that set (not tied) new all-time heat or cold records in June 2016

Baharia (Egypt) max. 48.8°C, 4 June

Choix (Mexico) max. 48.7°C, 5 June

Huites (Mexico) max. 50.0°C, 5 June

Beru (Kiribati) max. 34.8°C, 6 June; increased to 35.0°C on 9 June

Bilma (Niger) max. 49.0°C, 8 June; New national record high for Niger

Saragt (Turkmenistan) max. 47.3°C, 8 June

Paamiut (Greenland, Denmark) max. 23.6°C, 10 June

Tamanrasset Airport (Algeria) max. 40.2°C, 18 June 

Khamis Mushait (Saudi Arabia) max. 36.2°C, 18 June

Abha (Saudi Arabia) max. 38.1°C, 18 June

Altar (Mexico) max. 48.5°C, 19 June

Sonoyta (Mexico) max. 49.4°C, 19 June

Blythe (California,USA) max. 51.1°C, 20 June


– On 4 June, Picos AWS in Brazil recorded 39.5°C, the highest temperature ever recorded in June in the Southern Hemisphere. Previous record was 39.3°C at Ibibobo in Bolivia.

– On 8 June, Koror AWS, Palau, hit 34.4°C (94°F), tying the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in Palau (34.4°C was also recorded on several occasions at Nekken Forestry and at Koror, most recently on 16 April, 2016.)

(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)

One all-time national heat record set in June 2016

One nation–Niger–set a record in June 2016 for its all-time hottest temperature on record. From January through July 16, 2016, a total of twelve nations or territories tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history. One all-time cold temperature record has been set so far in 2016 (in Hong Kong.) “All-time” record here refers to the warmest or coldest temperature ever reliably reported in a nation or territory. The period of record varies from country to country and station to station, but it is typically a few decades to a century or more. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. Our data source is international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world’s top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records. Here are 2016’s all-time heat and cold records as of July 16:

Hong Kong Territory (China) tied its all-time hottest record on July 7, 2016, when the mercury hit 37.9°C (100.2°F) at Happy Valley.

Niger set its all-time hottest record on June 8, 2016, when the mercury hit 49.0°C (120.2°F) at Bilma.

India set its all-time hottest record on May 19, 2016, when the mercury hit 51.0°C (123.8°F) at Phalodi.

Maldives set its all-time hottest record on April 30, 2016, when the mercury hit 35.0°C (94.8°F) at Hanimaadhoo.

Thailand set its all-time hottest record on April 28, 2016, when the mercury hit 44.6°C (112.3°F) at Mae Hong Son.

Cambodia set its all-time hottest record on April 15, 2016, when the mercury hit 42.6°C (108.7°F) at Preah Vihea.

Burkina Faso set its all-time hottest record on April 13, 2016, when the mercury hit 47.5°C (117.5°F) at Dori.

Laos set its all-time hottest record on April 12, 2016, when the mercury hit 42.3°C (108.1°F) at Seno.

Vanuatu in the South Pacific set its all-time hottest record on February 8, 2016, when the mercury hit 36.2°C (97.2°F) at Lamap Malekula.

Tonga set its all-time hottest record on February 1, 2016, when the mercury hit 35.5°C (95.9°F) at Niuafoou.

Wallis and Futuna Territory (France) set a new territorial heat record with 35.8°C (96.4°F) on January 10, 2016 at Futuna Airport. This is the second year in a row that Wallis and Futuna has beaten its all-time heat mark; the previous record was a 35.5°C (95.9°F) reading on January 19, 2015 at the Futuna Airport.

Botswana set its all-time hottest record on January 7, 2016, when the mercury hit 43.8°C (110.8°F) at Maun.

Hong Kong Territory (China) set its all-time coldest mark on January 24, 2016, when the mercury dipped to -6.0°C (21.2°F) at Tai Mo Shan.

Jeff Masters and Bob Henson

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