Summary Information

The State of the Climate Summary Information is a synopsis of the collection of national and global summaries released each month.


Global Summary Information - May 2016

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Note: With this report and data release, the National Centers for Environmental Information is transitioning to improved versions of its global land (GHCN-M version 3.3.0) and ocean (ERSST version 4.0.0) datasets. Please note that anomalies and ranks reflect the historical record according to these updated versions. Historical months and years may differ from what was reported in previous reports. For more, please visit the associated FAQ and supplemental information.


The heat goes on: Globe record warm for 13th consecutive month


Global highlights: May 2016

  • The May temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.57°F above the 20th century average of 58.6°F. This was the highest for May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.04°F. May 2016 tied with June 2015 and August 2015 as the 12th highest monthly temperature departure among all months (1,637) on record. Overall, 13 of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015, with February 1998 and January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures.
  • The May globally averaged land surface temperature was 2.11°F above the 20th century average of 52.0°F. This value was the third highest May land global temperature in the 1880–2016 record, behind 2012 and 2015.
  • The May globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.37°F above the 20th century monthly average of 61.3°F—the highest global ocean temperature for May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.09°F. May 2016 was the 10th highest departure from average among all 1,637 months in the record. Record high sea surface temperatures across most of the Indian Ocean, along with parts of the Atlantic Ocean, and southwest Pacific Ocean contributed to the May warmth. The 11 highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past 11 months.
  • The May temperature for the lower troposphere (roughly the lowest 5 miles of the atmosphere) was the second highest in the 1979–2016 record, at 0.99°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama in Huntsville* (UAH) using UAH version 5.6. It tied with 2010 as the second highest on record, at 0.79°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems* (RSS). Both analyses rank May 1998 as the warmest May in the satellite record.
  • The May temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly 2 miles to 6 miles above the surface) was the second highest for May in the 1979–2016 record, at 0.83°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH. It was the third highest on record, at 0.76°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. After removing the influence of temperatures above 6 miles in altitude, the University of Washington, using data analyzed by the UAH and RSS, calculated temperature departures from the 1981–2010 average to be 1.04°F and 0.94°F, respectively, both second highest in the record. All analyses rank May 1998 as the warmest May in the satellite record.
  • According to data from NOAA analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during May was 1,033,000 square miles below the 1981–2010 average. This was the fourth smallest May Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in the 50-year period of record. The North American snow cover extent was the second smallest on record, while the Eurasian snow cover extent was the ninth smallest.
  • Note: The Northern and Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent product has been temporarily suspended by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) due to a satellite sensor failure. As such, we are not reporting on the Arctic or Antarctic sea ice extent information at this time. More information is available from the NSIDC.

Global highlights: March–May 2016

  • The March–May average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.91°F above the 20th century average of 56.7°F. This was the highest for March–May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.40°F. March–May 2016 also marks the fourth highest three-month departure from average for any three-month period on record, behind February–April 2016 (warmest), January–March 2016 (second warmest), and December 2015–February 2016 (third warmest).
  • The globally averaged land surface temperature for March–May 2016 was 3.24°F above the 20th century average of 46.4°F. This was the highest for March–May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.88°F. Similar to the March–May global land and ocean surface temperature, the March–May land surface temperature was also the fourth highest three-month departure from average for any three-month period on record.
  • The March–May globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.40°F above the 20th century average of 61.0°F—the highest for March–May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record of 2015 by 0.20°F. This was the ninth highest three-month departure from average for any three-month period on record.
  • The March–May temperature for the lower troposphere (roughly the lowest 5 miles of the atmosphere) was the highest in the 1979–2016 record, at 1.30°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama in Huntsville* (UAH) using version 5.6. It tied as the highest on record with 1998, at 1.08°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems* (RSS).
  • The March–May temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly 2 miles to 6 miles above the surface) was the highest for March–May in the 1979–2016 record, at 1.06°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH. It was the second highest on record (behind 1998), at 1.01°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. After removing the influence of temperatures above 6 miles in altitude, the University of Washington, using data analyzed by the UAH and RSS, calculated temperature departures from the 1981–2010 average to be 1.30°F and 1.19°F, respectively, both highest in the record.

Global highlights: Year-to-date (January–May 2016)

  • The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.94°F above the 20th century average of 55.5°F. This was the highest for January–May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.43°F.
  • The year-to-date globally averaged land surface temperature was 3.33°F above the 20th century average of 42.8°F. This was the highest for January–May in the 1880–2016 record, exceeding the previous record of 2015 by 0.81°F.
  • The year-to-date globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.44°F above the 20th century average of 60.8°F. This was the highest for January–May in the 1880–2016 record, besting the previous record of 2015 by 0.29°F.
  • The January–May temperature for the lower troposphere was the highest in the 1979–2016 record, at 1.33°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama in Huntsville* (UAH) using version 5.6. It was also highest on record, at 1.17°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems* (RSS).
  • The January–May temperature for the mid-troposphere was the highest for January–May in the 1979–2016 record, at 1.08°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH. It was also highest on record, at 1.03°F above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. After removing the influence of temperatures above 6 miles in altitude, the University of Washington, using data analyzed by the UAH and RSS, calculated temperature departures from the 1981–2010 average to be 1.31°F and 1.24°F, respectively, both highest in the record.
  • * Please note: the UAH and RSS referenced in this report are versions that have completed a research-to-operations (R2O) transition involving scientific, technical and administrative processes designed to ensure operational reliability. Both groups have new versions of their products at some stage of the R2O process and will be incorporated in this report when the R2O process is complete.

    For extended analysis of global temperature and precipitation patterns, please see our full May report.