Subscribe
First Look

It's official: NASA tags August 2016 as hottest month on record

According to a report from NASA, August 2016 was the hottest August on the planet – at least, since scientists began keeping records in the 1880s. 

  • close
    A runner passes the reflecting pool on the National Mall in Washington DC on Friday, August 12, 2016. An excessive heat watch has been issued for the area on that day.
    David Ake/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

This year is poised to be the hottest year on record, as August has tied July for the warmest month since 1880.

This August was 0.29 degrees F. (0.16 C) warmer than the previous year, according to an analysis the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York released Monday. July was 0.2 F. (0.11 C) warmer than the previous year.

A fifth or even third of a degree might not sound like a lot. But monthly temperature rankings are "inherently fragile" Gavin Schmidt, NASA GISS director, said in a news release.

"We stress that the long-term trends are the most important for understanding the ongoing changes that are affecting our planet," he said.

Right now, the trend doesn't look good. In addition to August marking the 11th consecutive month in which monthly average temperatures have been broken, it also defied seasonal norms: August is traditionally cooler than July, when the summer temperature cycle typically peaks. This abnormality suggests the Earth is continuing to warm, even after experts predicted the planet would enter a cooler La Niña  period after one of the strongest El Niño periods on record.

NASA conducted the analysis through data it acquired from 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship and buoy-based instruments that measure sea-surface temperatures, and Antarctic research stations, according to the release.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will likely confirm the NASA findings when it releases this week its own global temperature statistics for August, according to Tech Times. NOAA uses slightly different methods to calculate the global average. The agency estimates August will be the 16th consecutive month of recording-breaking temperatures.

Not all monthly temperatures are important, climate researchers say, as Molly Jackson wrote for The Christian Science Monitor in March. But, that’s why every monthly temperatures since October 2015 has been that much more significant.

Until October 2015, no month had ever varied more than 1 degree C from the 1951-1980 average. The coldest months were less than one degree colder than average, and the hottest months were less than one degree hotter.

But every month since then has shattered that threshhold: October 2015 was 1.06 degree C above average, November was 1.03 degree C above, then 1.10 degree C in December, 1.14 degree C in January, and now 1.35 degree C in February. 

This record-breaking heat is also already having effects on the environment, from vanishing ice in the Poles, to overheated seas, as Simone McCarthy reported for the Monitor in July.

These global changes come amid the December 2015 Paris Accord environmental pact. The nearly 200 nations in attendance agreed to "pursue efforts" to limit Earth's temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. These efforts include the reduction of emissions and investments in carbon sinks and cleaner energy.

The attending nations then designated 2 degrees C as the collective target the Earth's temperature must be held below. Such a temperature increase would still result in detrimental effects, such as severe weather and rising oceans, but could help the Earth avoid true catastrophe, scientists said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct an error in the temperature increase from the months of August in 2015 to 2016. It is 0.16 degrees C. 

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK