Global Warming

May 2016 Was the Second Warmest May in the Satellite Record: Global Temperature Update

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.12 C per decade

|

BestThermometer
Meryll / Dreamstime

May 2016 was the second warmest May in the satellite temperature record, trailing only May 1998 by 0.11 C, according to the press release from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Every month I report the findings of UAH climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer who use satellite measurements to monitor global temperature trends. They further note that compared to seasonal norms, May 2016 was the 8th warmest month overall since the satellite temperature dataset began in December 1978. Additionally, the UAH press release reports:

The 16 warmest months (and 21 of the warmest 25) on the record, however, all happened during one of three El Niño Pacific Ocean warming events (1997-98, 2009-10 and 2015-16). The effect is especially noticeable when comparing temperatures from a specific month. In the May data, three El Niño Mays are warmer than the other 35 by an amount that is statistically significant. …

The upshot, said Christy, is that while there is a clear warming signal in the satellite temperature data, caution should be used when trying to extrapolate long-term conclusions about climate change based on months and years whose temperatures are obvious outliers driven by El Niño warming events.

The 2015-16 El Niño appears to be fading fast. Sea surface temperatures in the east central Pacific have fallen below norms, and a La Niña Pacific Ocean cooling event may be on its way. It is a tiny sample, but 3-year La Niña cooling followed immediately after strong El Niño events in 1972-73 and 1997-98.

"We should expect continued, but erratic cooling through the end of the year," Christy said. "In comparing the current El Niño to the major 1997-98 event, we see that globally the last two months have fallen below the values seen in 1998. The 'race' for the hottest year is getting closer. (See attached graph.) Through May, 2016 (+0.67 C warmer than seasonal norms) is leading 1998 (+0.60 C). Annual anomalies, however, are accurate to only ± 0.1 C, so the two years are really in a statistical tie.

RoySpencerMay2016
Roy Spencer

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.12 C per decade

May temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.55 C (about 0.99 degrees Fahrenheit) above
30-year average for May.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.65 C (about 1.17 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year
average for May.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.44 C (about 0.79 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year
average for May.

Tropics: +.72 C (about 1.30 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for
May.

Go here to see the monthly satellite data.

NEXT: Trump's Racist Judge Attack Expands From Mexicans to Muslims

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Note the apparent beginning of La Nina- Spencer is predicting it hits over this summer.

    1. We need gender-fluid climate change.

  2. “The ‘race’ for the hottest year is getting closer.”

    Sounds like ‘readjustment’ time for some old data somewhere.

    1. Yeah. I’m not even sure anymore that ‘may 2016 was second warmest’ is bothering to measure actual temperatures or ‘adjusted’ temperatures. That entire community has lost their credibility (scientific) at this point and once someone like that loses credibility they can’t ever get it back. And since the scientists have now gone a bit more quiet – and are overtly letting pols/activists carry the agenda forward, it makes me even more suspicious that the scientists themselves aren’t doing shit to fix their own house either.

      I look to the supermarket tabloids now for breaking information on climate

  3. That must be why I had to bring a sweater with me everywhere up until about a week and a half ago or so.

    1. Weather isn’t climate! Unless it is. Until it isn’t again.

      1. Yep. If it’s warmer than normal, it’s “climate”. If it’s cooler than normal, that on the other hand is just “weather”.

        1. Ever notice in weather reports and forecasts, quite often warmer weather is described as “warmer than normal” while cooler weather is often described as “cooler than average”?

          1. normal & average…sucks to be mean…

      2. When weather doesn’t support climate change, then it’s just weather and anyone who points it out is to be scoffed at.

        When weather does support climate change, then it’s a climate event (!) and anyone who disagrees is to be scoffed at.

  4. Do you fucking love science or do you FUCKING LOVE science?

    There’s a difference.

    1. I fucking love sciencelooking at pictures of natural phenomena on Facebook!

    2. Fucking science and love science are different disciplines.

      1. One is physics and the other is chemistry?

        1. One is a hard science and the other is soft.

    3. I love fucking? SCIENCE!

  5. ‘Tain’t the heat, it’s the humidity.

    For real, it still hasn’t gotten hot yet in the Tidewater, which is unusual, but it is muggy as fuck.

  6. ‘Tain’t the heat, it’s the humidity.

    For real, it still hasn’t gotten hot yet in the Tidewater, which is unusual, but it is muggy as fuck.

    1. How muggy is fuck?

      1. Two teenagers in the backseat fogging up the windows muggy.

        1. three?

      2. If you’re doing it right, very muggy!

  7. Of all the Mays, I feel like the hottest is Jayma.

    1. +1 Paul Blart Mall Cop

  8. Am I supposed to be shitting my pants or breathing a sigh of relief?

    1. Pants shitting involves release of greenhouse gases. This is what we call a “positive feedback cycle.”

      1. So does breathing a sigh of relief.

        I’ll just hold my breath and not take a shit until I die, then my last act as a human will be to cause more climate change as I do both simultaneously.

        Take that, Bailey.

  9. Can you use 1978 as your starting date? Isn’t that at the end of a cooling trend in the 70’s?

    Of course, isn’t everything in the last few thousand years part of the recovery from a long, long, long cooling trend? Has anyone ever explained why the current interglacial period paused before reaching the peak temperatures of the prior three warm periods? I’ve asked about this graph from the Vostok ice cores a few times and never seen a satisfactory answer. The last 4 temperature maximums were about 2 degrees warmer than our current temperatures, and were reached fairly quickly according to the graph. The peaks are very sharp, followed by long, slow declines into an ice age. But the current period strangely plateaus just below the peak for a fairly long time. Why? Why didn’t temperatures peak 20 thousand years ago and why aren’t we currently plunging into an ice age?

    Why does the earth seem to peak out at about 2 degrees warmer than our current temperature and then plunge into an ice age? Does it involve some feedback mechanisms that mean that once the earth warms up another 2 degrees we’ll start inevitably cooling into a deep freeze, where all of North America and Europe are covered in miles of ice? Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Stop it. The science is settled.

    2. 1) The reason the data only goes to 78 is because they are using satellite data, not other historical data, which only goes back that far.

      2) I don’t know for sure, but my bet is that the farther you go back in core samples, the more compressed that data becomes- literally. Over millions of years, the snow building up on top compresses the ice below into more dense material. So once you get back that far, you may not have resolution like we have today.

      3) I think this is the biggest indication that humans are having some affect on the climate. A lot of stuff causes ice ages- the distance to the sun, Earth’s wobble, solar output, atmospheric composition, and even the arrangement of continents on the planet. For example, one theory is that even though the days of Pangea had lower CO2 levels, it never saw glaciation because it was such a large land mass that effectively stored heat. When conditions are right to start building glaciers, the process runs away as more and more light is reflected away from the earth by snow. Since our glaciers continue to recede, it is likely that the run away cooling is not starting.

      1. it’s not the heat, ITS THE STUPIDITY!

      2. 2) I don’t know for sure, but my bet is that the farther you go back in core samples, the more compressed that data becomes- literally. Over millions of years, the snow building up on top compresses the ice below into more dense material. So once you get back that far, you may not have resolution like we have today.

        Hmm, this is interesting. How do they know the bounds on the resolution? Certainly, you can make estimates based upon the weight above a certain “slice” of the sample, but how do you know the rate at which that portion of the sample was accrued? A couple thousand years of very different patterns here and there could throw the data off substantially.

        This reminds me a bit of carbon dating. How do we know what the environmental distribution of e.g. Carbon-14 was 1,000,000 years ago? There seems to be an appeal to consistency (we measured the same value in N different places on the Earth’s surface), but what effects can global trends have on the apparent independence of localized measurements? Internal consistency is not the same as accuracy.

        1. This reminds me a bit of carbon dating. How do we know what the environmental distribution of e.g. Carbon-14 was 1,000,000 years ago?

          Carbon-14 concentration is changed from standard isotope carbon background by kinematics of life processes.

          Don’t know half-life, but it is far too short to go back a million years. And carbon dating is only a valid technique for samples from organic carbon sources – hard to assert from an ice-core sample; don’t even think carbon dating is used much in this field.

      3. Over millions of years, the snow building up on top compresses the ice below into more dense material.

        Ice is ice. For it to get denser, it would have to assume new crystal structure and not be ‘ice’ anymore. One could conjecture ice under such high pressure so long is a variable in trace gas persistence in the crystal lattice; but not physical structure of the ice itself.

  10. So what part of the Northern Hemisphere is causing that increase, since most of North America has been unseasonably cool?

    Was it Europe? I bet it was Europe.

    1. Fuckin’ Europe, man.

      1. White privilege is the scourge of the earth! Now let’s be exactly like Europe!

    2. The Pacific NW has been at record highs, and parts of the rust belt mid-west have had extremes at both ends of the scale over the last month.

  11. Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income… You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection… Make $98 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up… You can have your first check by the end of this week…

    ____________________________ http://www.earnmore9.com

  12. Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income… You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection… Make $98 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up… You can have your first check by the end of this week…

    ____________________________ http://www.earnmore9.com

  13. According to Nat’l Geo, Titaniboa thrived and grew to enormous size due to a very hot tropical environment…so when can we expect the invasion of giant serpents?

    1. They’re releasing crocodiles into Florida to keep them under control.

      When the crocodile-controlling gorillas take over the state government, you’ll know that global warming has finally arrived.

  14. What part of the earth do they measure the temperature because here in Arkansas it has been very cool for May.

  15. The 2015-16 El Ni?o appears to be fading fast. Sea surface temperatures in the east central Pacific have fallen below norms,

    Shit. That doesn’t sound like a climate report; it sounds like a Key Performance Indicator.

  16. How is everything the second warmest? Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. 🙁

  17. As far as recent history goes, winter 2013/2014 was one of the coldest on record in the upper Midwest and I had the pleasure of surviving it. That winter damn near killed off the deer population and I’m not sure how the other non hibernating non migrating animals faired, but from what I can tell—not very well!! I don’t seem to recall a lot of global warming talk in the media then…how did old Al Gore’s dire predictions of doom within ten years turn out?

  18. Interesting to note a week ago the Financial Times ran an editorial entitled “The Long Twilight of Oil Companies.” It was their attempt to inform big oil that the world is changing after Paris, renewable are ascending, and oil either gets on board…or goes by the boards.

    One quote:

    “Instead of railing against climate policies, or paying them lip-service while quietly defying them with investment decisions, the oil companies will serve their investors and society better if they accept the limits they face, and embrace a future of long-term decline.”

    Maybe libertarians will in fact be the last to accept reality.

  19. “As far as recent history goes, winter 2013/2014 was one of the coldest on record in the upper Midwest?”
    When I got up one morning in January of 1977 (27th?) the temp outside was a frosty -25 degrees F. (That’s 25 below zero) in Murphysboro, Illinois.
    At 37deg 45min north latitude the ‘boro is south of Washington DC (38deg 53min north latitude)

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.