2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record, according to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Global average surface temperatures for the first four months of this year show that 2016 is shaping up to be the hottest year in the temperature records maintained by NOAA which date back to 1880.
The global average surface temperature in April 2016 was +1.10°C above the 20th century average of 13.7°C — making April 2016 the warmest April recorded by NOAA. This was also the fourth highest anomaly – or variance to the long-term average temperature – in NOAA’s records ranking April 2016 behind March 2016 (with an anomaly of +1.23°C), February 2016 (+1.19°C), and December 2015 (+1.12°C).
Will 2016 be the hottest year? The NOAA data shows we have just had the hottest 12 months…
This is the 12th consecutive month that a monthly global temperature record has been broken, the longest such streak in NOAA’s 137 years of record keeping, reports the agency. Overall, 13 out of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015, says NOAA.
During April 2016 there were warmer than average conditions across most of Earth’s land surfaces particularly across much of Russia and Alaska, where temperatures were 3.0°C or greater above average. Much of the global oceans also experienced warmer than average conditions during April 2016, with a large portion of the Indian Ocean experiencing record warmth.
The impact of the fading El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event on sea surface temperatures is evident in the figures but global temperatures are higher this year than during 1998 which was the last time such a powerful El Niño occurred, according to the NOAA data.
Global surface temperature data from US space agency NASA for April 2016 agree with the NOAA analysis that, so far, 2016 is turning out to be the hottest year on record, that April 2016 is the warmest April on record and that it was significantly warmer than April 1998; it is worth noting that the two organisations use different baselines for calculating their temperature anomalies which means the actual anomaly numbers are not directly comparable although the differences between different years are.
Satellite data says it was warm but not that warm
However, while the data from both NOAA and NASA unequivocally suggest that April 2016 was the warmest April on record and, certainly, warmer than April 1998, other data suggests that this is not necessarily the case.
Separate analyses of global atmospheric temperature measurements – as opposed to the global surface temperature data from NOAA and NASA – collected from satellite instruments by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) both reported that April 2016 was the second warmest April in the history of satellite measurements which goes back to 1979 – with an anomaly slightly less than that reported in April 1998.
NOAA data shows that the global surface temperature anomaly of +1.10°C for April 2016 was 0.34°C greater than the +0.76°C anomaly reported in 1998 whereas NASA data shows that April 2016 had an anomaly 0.48°C warmer than that seen in April 1998.
UAH data shows April 2016 was second warmest April in the satellite temperature record which dates back to 1979 ranking it just behind April 1998 although the difference is within the error range of the data. RSS data also reports that April 1998 was warmer than April 2016 with temperature difference between the two years of around 0.1°C.
Both satellite data sets agree with the NASA and NOAA data in reporting that February 2016 was the warmest month in their respective records.
The NOAA data
Top 15 warmest months in NOAA’s record