Global temperatures have begun to retreat from their El Niño-fueled peak earlier in the year, but the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases is keeping them well above average and 2016 is likely to become the hottest year on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its temperature data through the end of October onMore
Warming fueled by greenhouse gas emissions continues to rewrite the record books: Over the past several weeks, heat records continued to fall at global, national, and local scales.
At the largest of those scales, October tied for the third-warmest October on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) global temperature analysis released on Thursday.
Despite the disappearance of El Niño earlier this year (and the recent appearance of La Niña, El Niño’s cool phase), the oceans remain warm. The October globally averaged sea surface temperature was the second highest on record, running only 0.25°F (0.14°C) behind last year’s record. Including this year, the five warmest October ocean temperatures have all come in the past five years.
The heat was also particularly pronounced in the Arctic, and remains so into November. Temperatures have been more than 30°F above normal there in the past few weeks. October sea ice extent in the Arctic was the lowest since satellite records began in 1979. Meanwhile in the Antarctic, sea ice extent was the second lowest, in stark contrast to the record highs of recent years.
Despite being “only” the third-warmest October, the world remains on track to have its hottest year on record in 2016.
Nationally, the heat has also been on this fall. The U.S. had its third warmest October on record in 122 years of recordkeeping, keeping the country on track for its second-hottest year in the books. Only three states had temperatures that were close to normal, while a wide area from the Southeast to the Southern Rockies was much warmer than normal. New Mexico had its hottest October on record.
Even more shocking is the local story. More than 7,000 daily warm temperature records were tied or broken nationwide in October. In comparison, there were only about 500 cold records set or tied, making it a stunning 13-to-1 ratio of record heat to cold.
The year-to-date temperatures in the U.S. are even more striking. So far in 2016, both Carolinas are having their warmest year on record, and all of the Lower 48 states are having one of their 10 warmest years on record.
And the warmth is continuing into November. According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, several locations in the Northern Plains, Northern Rockies, and West Coast are having their warmest November on record so far. This includes cities as diverse Milwaukee; Bismarck, N.D.; Rapid City, S.D.; Salt Lake City; Boise, Idaho; Seattle; Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Many locations had long-held records fall this week. On Nov. 16 alone, Oklahoma saw its latest 90°F reading (the previous record had been Nov. 8), Lincoln, Neb., had its latest 80°F day on record, and Fort Collins, Colo., hit 79°F, tying its all-time record high for November.
On the same day, the temperature in Reno, Nev., fell below freezing for the first time this season—that was the latest first freeze of the fall on record. The previous record was Nov. 4. This also marked the longest consecutive period of days above freezing, with 229, crushing the previous record of 204 days set in 2014.
According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, much of the U.S. will have temperatures above normal for the rest of the month, so expect more records to fall before meteorological winter starts on Dec. 1.