August 2012 fourth-warmest August on record globally

August 2012 was the fourth-warmest August on record globally. It was also the 330th consecutive month of above-average global temperatures.

August 2012 Blended Land & Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in °C. Gray areas represent missing data. Image Credit: NCDC

The latest global climate report has been released by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and the results find that August 2012 was the fourth warmest August ever recorded since record keeping began in 1880. Also, August 2012 is the 330th consecutive month of global temperatures being above the 20th century average. In other words, temperatures have been above the norm since President Ronald Reagan was in office in the middle of the 1980s. The global land temperature for August 2012 tied with 2001 and 2011 as the second warmest August on record, behind 1998, at 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.90 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average of 56.9°F. The warmest locations globally around the world occurred across central and southern Europe, northeast North America, and east central Asia.

Notable weather events across the Globe in August 2012. Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

According the the National Climatic Data Center, the last time we experienced an August with below average temperatures globally was back in August 1976. We actually have to go back to February 1985 to see below average temperatures across the globe.

Here are a few highlights from around the globe for August 2012:

– Australia experienced a large swing of afternoon and nighttime temperatures. In fact, temperatures were 1.49°C above normal, making this the sixth warmest August since national records began in 1950. However, temperatures were cooler at night with temperatures roughly 0.83°C below average. With such a huge contrast in temperatures, it makes the average daytime temperature and the average nighttime temperature the greatest on record for August and third highest for any month on record.

– Spain experienced temperatures at 2.0°C above average thanks to two heat waves during August 2012 which made August the second warmest August since record keeping began in 1961.

– Austria had temperatures that was 1.9°C above average since record keeping began in 1767, which made August 2012 the fourth warmest August ever recorded.

– Ocean temperatures were 0.94°F (0.52°C) above the 20th century average of 61.4°F (16.4°C). Overall, these temperatures made it the fifth warmest August on record, and also the highest monthly global ocean temperature departure from average for any month since July 2010.

-The report also included information regarding the Arctic sea ice extent melting at an all time low. For more information regarding the melting of the Arctic, please visit my post: 2012 Arctic sea ice extent lowest ever recorded.

-In the opposite pole, Antarctica sea ice during August 2012 was 1.6 percent above average and ranked as fourth largest August extent in the 34-year period of record.

Global temperatures in 2012

Year to date global temperature anomalies that show the five warmest years ever recorded in relation to 2012. Image Credit: NCDC

In general, the June 2012-August 2012 period brought upon well above average temperatures both on land and in the ocean. In fact, the global land temperature was the all-time warmest June–August on record, at 1.85°F (1.03°C) above the 20th century average of 56.9°F (13.8°C). Meanwhile, global sea surface temperature were 0.90°F (0.50°C) above the 20th century average of 61.5°F, making it the seventh for June-August on record. The land surface temperatures for January through August 2012 was 1.71°F (0.95°C) above the 20th century average, marking it the sixth warmest such period on record. However, global ocean temperatures for this period was estimated around 0.76°F (0.42°C) above average and ranked as the 11th warmest such period on record.

Bottom line: August 2012 was the fourth warmest August on record globally with a temperature of 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.90 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average of 56.9°F. Meanwhile, global land temperature was the all-time warmest June–August on record. So far, 2012 does not match our top five warmest years ever recorded (2005, 2010, 1998, 2003, 2002), but it still remains well above average. In fact, the last time we saw below-average temperatures globally for a month was back on February 1985. Arctic sea ice extent is at the lowest levels ever recorded in over three decades. Arctic sea ice minimum has been reached, by the way. Record low ice extent is 1.32 million square miles. The previous record was set in 2007 (1.58 million square miles).

Matt Daniel

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