Global Temperature Update

NASA has released their estimate for global temperature this May of 2016. It came in at 0.93 °C, the hottest May on record, and the latest 12-month running mean is also the hottest on record:


The year-so-far average global temperature is a whopping 1.15 °C, well above the hottest full calendar year we’ve yet seen, 2015’s record-breaking 0.86 °C.


Despite breaking the month-of-May record and the 12-month record and the year-so-far being so much hotter than any previous full calendar year, May was cooler (anomaly-wise) than the prior seven months:


It seems that the extreme warming influence of the recent el Niño is subsiding. We may even enter la Niña conditions, with its resultant temperature cooling. This leads one to wonder: when 2016 draws to a close, will it have broken the 2015 record warmth for a calendar year?

To do so, global temperature will have to average 0.653 or higher during the remaining 7 months of the year. I estimate that the trend value is presently 0.798 °C, so if global temperature is on trend for the remainder of the year then yes, we’ll set a new record. But if a strong la Niña ensues, we could see temperatures well below the trend value. Hence it’s possible that the rest of the year will be cool enough that 2016 won’t break the record.

I would say it’s likely that 2016 will set a new record, but by no means a sure thing. Record-breaker or no, what matters is the trend; there’s no doubt that’s still upward, and no doubt that spells trouble for those of us who live here on planet Earth.

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15 responses to “Global Temperature Update

  1. Thanks for that, Tamino. Does anyone know the last time the last 7 months of a year averaged less that 0.653C above baseline?

    [Response: April-to-October 2013 (using NASA GISS).]

  2. Potty peer Monckton rejoices: No global warming for 3 months and counting!

  3. May was cooler than the prior seven months in Gistemp loti but not in Gistemp dTs. It is the SST that push down May below the October value.
    The 12-month running mean will likely continue to increase slightly through the summer, peaking in August or possibly September. I don’t think the rest of the year will be too cold, with the ENSO forecasts suggesting a la Nina “light”.

    • Maybe I’m deceiving myself, but it looks like June PDO, and maybe even June AMO, could be warmer than May’s numbers. If these indexes stay high, that could buffer a La Nina event. Maybe… a 2017 La Nina year that makes the Top-5 warmest years? Is that possible?

      • Strange things are happening in the Nino regions right now:

        If the Nino 3.4 index were a security, a technical analyst would likely say that the index has support at the zero level. This is quite unlike 1998 when Nino 3.4 fell steeply trough the floor in the beginning of June.

        Anyway, it doesnt matter if next year will be neutral, weak la Nina, or strong la Nina. The year will probably be the warmest of its kind, unless there is a big volcanic eruption..

      • Christian John

        Olof R,

        Not so strange as you think, i reported the possibility of this increase on 3.06. :,3195513,3216170#msg-3216170 (but is in German)

        PS: Anomaly will go down now, because of stronger trade winds

  4. Thanks Tamino. I’m sticking with my prediction that the year will be 0.94°C above the 1951-80 baseline in the GISS dataset. I believe that, despite the probable La Nina, 2016 will be the warmest year on record.

  5. I would be very interested to see how the chart above compares to predictions made over the last 30 years. Who did well and why?

  6. The annual temperature anomalies do appear to act as the authoritative measure of global warming so we can expect that the final average for 2016 is going to be bandied about by all.
    As the ENSO will play a big part in the outcome, a comparison with 1997/98 may be worth a look for our predictions. There is a lag between ENSO (as portrayed by MEI) and its impact on global temperature – 4 months for GISTEMPS (which is longer than for HadCRUT or NOAA) according to a Foster & Rahmstprf (2011). Further, it will only be the last few months of the year before MEI turns negative. (ESRL have just posted MEI for Apr/May with the first sign of serious drop from El Nino conditions). So if there were a sharp La Nina in coming months, it won’t have much influence on the 2016 global temperature figure.
    In 1997/98 GISTEMP rose 0.15ºC from 1997 to 1998 with Jan-May seeing an average 0.21ºC over the pervious year & Jun-Dec a 0.11ºC average increase. With the 2015/16 El Nino, GISTEMP has risen 0.29ºC from 2015 to the 2016 Jan-May average. For 2016 to come in below the +0.860ºC average of 2015, we would need a drop of 0.2ºC for the Jun-Dec average below the 2015 average. Even the trend value for those remaining month average involves a drop on 2015 of 0.06ºC. Yet the 1997/98 EL Nino had that rise of 0.11ºC which suggests an average for the remainder of 2016 at +0.97ºC. That’s warmer than the most recent anomaly for May.
    Of course, not all EL Ninos are the same so we may be asking too much of 1997/98 as a rough guide for 2015/16.

  7. JMA have posted 2nd warmest May, by a little bit in that series.