Report: Ocean temps in August were the hottest on record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that sea-surface temperatures this summer were the hottest on record.

If the ocean in your neck of the woods has started to feel a little more like bathwater over the last few months – fret not. You're not alone. A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association puts world ocean surface temps from June to August as the hottest since 1880, when the NOAA began dipping their thermometers into the deep blue seas.

According to data collected at the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., from June to August, the worldwide ocean surface temperature was 62.5 degrees Fahrenheit – 1.04 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees.

Meanwhile, the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for that same period was 61.2 degrees Fahrenheit – the third warmest on record, and 1.06 degrees above the 20th century average of 60.1 degrees.

Here's some more from the report:

Large portions of the world’s land mass observed warmer-than-average temperatures in August. The warmest departures occurred across Australia, Europe, parts of the Middle East, northwestern Africa, and southern South America. Both Australia and New Zealand had their warmest August since their records began.

So, what's causing the spike? Well, as Suzanne Goldenberg of the Guardian points out, a lot of the warming was generated by El Niño, a regular oscillation in the atmosphere of the tropical Pacific region.

"If El Niño strengthens, global temperatures are likely to set new records... So far, 2009 has been the fifth warmest year on record." Goldenberg writes. "Some scientists have suggested that the effects of El Niño, coupled with warming due to climate change, could well make the coming decade the hottest in human history."


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