In more than 135 years of global temperature data, four of the five hottest months on record all happened in 2015.
This has been the hottest start to a year by far, according to data released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The record heat is likely to continue as an already strong El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean continues to intensify, ripping more heat into the atmosphere. This monster El Niño may itself be on track to break records.
The animation below shows the Earth’s warming climate, recorded in monthly measurements from land and sea dating back to 1880. Temperatures are displayed in degrees above or below the 20th-century average. Thirteen of the 14 hottest years are in the 21st century, and 2015 is on track to raise the bar again.
Results from the world’s top monitoring agencies vary slightly. NOAA and the Japan Meteorological Agency both had June as the hottest month on record. NASA had it as tied with June 1998 for the hottest. All three agencies agree that there has never been a hotter start to the year than the past six months.
The heat was experienced differently across the world, but few places escaped it altogether. The map below shows a few purple spots of cooler-than-average temperatures, and plenty of record-breaking red. The massive stretch of chart-topping heat in the Pacific Ocean is the footprint of El Niño.