It has been an exceptionally warm couple of months – in fact, a warm year – across the entire globe. NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) said on Thursday (December 17, 2015) that November 2015 was the warmest November on record by an unusually large margin. NOAA commented:
The November average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.75°F (0.97°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for November in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2013 by 0.27°F (0.15°C), and marking the seventh consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken.
November’s departure from average temperatures — 1.75 degrees — was also the second-highest out of any month in NOAA’s 136-year (1,631-month) period of record-keeping.
The highest departure from average, by the way, was set just one month earlier – in October, 2015 – at 1.79 degrees.
November 2015’s warmth makes the year-to-date period (January – November) the warmest such period on record, according to both NOAA and NASA. The strong ongoing El Niño is playing a role in this unusual warmth. Jeff Masters at wunderground.com said:
Strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C. This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it virtually certain that 2015 will be Earth’s second consecutive warmest year on record.
The lingering warmth from El Niño is likely to make 2016 a good bet to exceed even 2015’s warmth.
Bottom line: NOAA said on December 17 that November 2015 was the hottest November on record for the globe, a whopping 1.75°F (0.97°C) above the 20th century average. It was also the hottest September–November in the NOAA record. And it was the hottest January–November in the NOAA record, surpassing the previous record set in 2014. NOAA record-keeping began 136 years (1,631 months) ago.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.