Global Analysis - May 2016


Maps and Time Series

Temperature and Precipitation Maps

Temperature Anomalies Time Series



Introduction

Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v4) anomaly analysis as described in Huang et al. (2016). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCEI's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The percentile map on the right provides additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.


Supplemental May 2016 Information


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Temperatures

In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth's surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the May 2016 height and anomaly mapMay 2016 and March - May 2016 height and anomaly mapMarch–May 2016 maps—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

May

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2016 was the highest for May in the 137-year period of record, at 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F), besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). May 2016 marks the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken—the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880.

The May 2016 global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average was also the lowest monthly temperature departure from average since August 2015 and, unlike the past five consecutive months (December 2015 through April 2016), did not surpass 1.0°C (1.8°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 temperature departures.

The average global temperature across land surfaces was 1.17°C (2.11°F) above the 20th century average of 11.1°C (52.0°F)—the third highest May temperature on record, behind 2012 (+1.26°C / +2.27°F) and 2015 (+1.21°C / +2.18°F). This was also the lowest land monthly temperature departure from average since September 2015, which had a temperature departure of 1.14°C (2.05°F) above average.

May 2016 was characterized by warmer to much warmer than average conditions across Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central America, northern South America, northern Europe, Africa, Oceania, and parts of southern and eastern Asia, according to the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above. Areas with record warmth included much of Southeast Asia and parts of northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and northern and eastern Australia. Near- to cooler-than-average conditions were present across much of the contiguous U.S., central and southern South America, and much of central Asia. No land areas experienced record cold temperatures during May 2016. According to NCEI's Global Regional analysis, five of the six continents had at least a top nine warm May, with Oceania observing a record high average temperature for May since continental records began in 1910.

Select national information is highlighted below. Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data:

  • The Kingdom of Bahrain observed its fourth warmest May since national records began in 1902, with a mean temperature of 32.0°C (89.6°F), which is 2.2°C (4.0°F) above average.
  • Much of Australia experienced warmer to much warmer than average conditions during May 2016, with record warmth across the north and east as shown in the temperature percentiles map. According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, the national May mean temperature was 1.88°C (3.38°F) above the 1961–1990 average. This was the second highest May temperature since national temperature records began in 1910, behind 1958 (+2.11°C / +3.80°F). The national nighttime temperature was also the second highest for the country at 2.06°C (3.71°F), behind 1958 (+2.24°C / +4.03°F). The national average daytime temperature was also above average at +1.72°C (3.10°F)—the fifth highest May daytime temperatures in the 107-year record. All regions, with the exception of Tasmania, had a top 10 warm mean May temperature. Of note, Queensland had its highest mean May temperature on record at +2.73°C (4.91°F), surpassing the previous record set in 2007 by 0.27°C (0.49°F). Queensland also had its highest nighttime temperature at 2.99°C (5.38°F) above average, besting the previous record set in 1989 by 0.19°C (0.34°F).
  • New Zealand's national temperature for May 2016 was 12.9°C (55.2°F) which is 2.1°C (3.8°F) above the 1981–2010 average—the highest May temperature since national records began in 1909. According to New Zealand's NIWA, the record warm sea surface temperatures surrounding the island (as shown in the temperature percentiles map shown above) contributed to the warmth observed in May 2016.
  • Unusually warm conditions were present across much of Finland during May 2016, with temperature departures between 3°–5°C (5°–7°F) above average. According to Finnish Meteorological Institute, 20 locations set new all-time records for average temperature in May.
  • Near to cooler-than-average conditions engulfed much of Argentina during May 2016. According to Argentina's Meteorological Service, several locations set new monthly low daytime temperatures. Averaged nationally, May 2016 was the coolest May in 56 years.
  • Above average May temperatures were observed across all stations in Ireland, with departures from average over 1°C (1.8°F) across parts of the South, West, and Midlands. Some of these stations had their warmest May in eight years.

For the oceans, the May globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 0.76°C (1.37°F) above the 20th century average of 16.3°C (61.3°F). This was the highest for May on record, besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.05°C (0.09°F). This was the lowest monthly temperature departure since July 2015 and ranked as the 10th highest departure from average among all 1,637 months in the record. The 11 highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past 11 months (since July 2015).

Warmer to much-warmer-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the world's oceans, with pockets of record warmth observed across every major ocean basin, including northwestern and southwestern Atlantic Ocean, much of the Indian Ocean, and parts of the southwest Pacific Ocean, and southern Pacific Ocean. Near- to much-cooler-than-average conditions were present across the North Atlantic to the south of Greenland, north-central Pacific Ocean, and parts of the Southern Ocean. The only area to experience record cold May temperatures was the southern Atlantic Ocean, southeast of South America.

El Niño dissipated in May 2016, giving way to ENSO-neutral conditions as sea surface temperatures continued to decrease across the tropical Pacific Ocean. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is favored to develop during late Northern Hemisphere summer 2016, with nearly 75 percent chance for La Niña during the fall and winter 2016–17. This forecast focuses on the ocean surface temperatures between 5°N and 5°S latitude and 170°W to 120°W longitude, called the Niño 3.4 region.

May Anomaly Rank
(out of 137 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.17 ± 0.12 +2.11 ± 0.22 Warmest 3ʳᵈ 2012 +1.26 +2.27
Coolest 135ᵗʰ 1907 -0.98 -1.76
Ocean +0.76 ± 0.14 +1.37 ± 0.25 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.76 +1.37
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.54 -0.97
Land and Ocean +0.87 ± 0.13 +1.57 ± 0.23 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.87 +1.57
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1907, 1911 -0.47 -0.85
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.23 ± 0.11 +2.21 ± 0.20 Warmest 3ʳᵈ 2012 +1.50 +2.70
Coolest 135ᵗʰ 1907 -1.07 -1.93
Ocean +0.82 ± 0.14 +1.48 ± 0.25 Warmest 2ⁿᵈ 2015 +0.84 +1.51
Coolest 136ᵗʰ 1911 -0.52 -0.94
Land and Ocean +0.98 ± 0.13 +1.76 ± 0.23 Warmest 2ⁿᵈ 2015 +1.01 +1.82
Coolest 136ᵗʰ 1907 -0.60 -1.08
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.99 ± 0.21 +1.78 ± 0.38 Warmest 5ᵗʰ 2014 +1.22 +2.20
Coolest 133ʳᵈ 1917 -1.16 -2.09
Ocean +0.73 ± 0.15 +1.31 ± 0.27 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.73 +1.31
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.54 -0.97
Land and Ocean +0.77 ± 0.14 +1.39 ± 0.25 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.77 +1.39
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.52 -0.94

The most current data can be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Seasonal (March–May)

The March–May seasonal global temperature was 1.06°C (1.91°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F)—the first time the period March–May surpassed the 1°C and the highest temperature departure from average for March–May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.22°C (0.40°F). March–May 2016 also marks the fourth highest three-month departure for any three-month period on record, behind February–April 2016 (+1.16°C / +2.09°F), January–March 2016 (+1.15°C / +2.07°F) and December 2015–February 2016 (+1.12°C / +2.02°F).

The globally-averaged temperature across land surfaces for March–May was also the highest on record for March–May, at 1.80°C (3.24°F) above the 20th century average of 8.1°C (46.4°F). This surpasses the previous record set in 2010 by 0.49°C (0.88°F) and marks the fourth highest three-month departure from average for any three-month period on record, behind February–April 2016 (+2.17°C / +3.91°F), January–March 2016 (+2.07°C / +3.73°F) and December 2015–February 2016 (+1.90°C / +3.42°F).

Much-warmer-than-average March–May temperatures were present across much of the global land surfaces, with record warmth across northwestern North America, northern South America, central and northeastern Africa, Oceania, and parts of Central America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, as shown by the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above. Meanwhile, very limited land areas experienced near to cooler-than-average conditions. These areas included southern South America and eastern parts of Canada. No land areas observed record cold temperatures for the March–May period. According to NCEI's Global Regional analysis, all six continents had at least a top four warm March–May period, with Asia and Oceania observing a record high average temperature for March–May and South America and Africa having their second warmest March–May period since continental records began in 1910.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • The average March–May 2016 mean temperature across Australia was 1.86°C (3.35°F) above the 1961–1990 average—the warmest such period since national temperature records began in 1910. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2005 by 0.22°C (0.40°F). All regions had a top five warm March–May, with Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Northern Territory having their warmest such period on record. The new records surpassed the previous records by a wide margin. Of note, Queensland's mean temperature for the period was 2.35°C (4.23°F) above average, exceeding the previous record set in 2005 by 0.75°C (1.35°F). Australia as a whole also had its highest minimum temperature and second highest maximum temperature on record.
  • New Zealand averaged temperature for March–May 2016 was 14.7°C (58.5°F), which is 1.4°C (2.5°F) above the 1981–2010 average. This was the second warmest March–May since national temperature records began in 1909, behind 1938. Regionally, several locations had record or near-record mean, maximum, and minimum March–May temperatures.

Across the world's oceans, the March–May average sea surface temperature was 0.78°C (1.40°F) above the 20th century average of 16.1°C (61.0°F)—the highest for March–May on record, exceeding the previous record set in 2015 by 0.11°C (0.20°F). This was also the ninth highest three-month departure from average for any three-month period on record. Record warmth was spread across every major basin, including several pockets across the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Alaska, the Barents Sea in the Arctic, and much of the Indian Ocean, the Southwest Pacific Ocean and parts of the central tropical Pacific Ocean. Much cooler-than-average temperatures were observed in the North Atlantic south of Greenland, part of the northwestern Pacific, and some regions of the Southern Ocean.

March–May Anomaly Rank
(out of 137 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.80 ± 0.12 +3.24 ± 0.22 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.80 +3.24
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1898 -0.85 -1.53
Ocean +0.78 ± 0.15 +1.40 ± 0.27 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.78 +1.40
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.53 -0.95
Land and Ocean +1.06 ± 0.14 +1.91 ± 0.25 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.06 +1.91
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Northern Hemisphere
Land +2.00 ± 0.13 +3.60 ± 0.23 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +2.00 +3.60
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1898 -0.89 -1.60
Ocean +0.81 ± 0.14 +1.46 ± 0.25 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.81 +1.46
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.49 -0.88
Land and Ocean +1.26 ± 0.14 +2.27 ± 0.25 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.26 +2.27
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1909 -0.56 -1.01
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.26 ± 0.16 +2.27 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.26 +2.27
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1917 -0.87 -1.57
Ocean +0.77 ± 0.16 +1.39 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.77 +1.39
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.55 -0.99
Land and Ocean +0.85 ± 0.15 +1.53 ± 0.27 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.85 +1.53
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.54 -0.97

The most current data can be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Year-to-date (January–May)

After five consecutive record months it comes to no surprise that the average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–May 2016 resulted in the warmest such period on record across the world's land and ocean surfaces, at 1.08°C (1.94°F) above the 20th century average of 13.1°C (55.5°F), surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.24°C (0.43°F).

Much-warmer-than-average conditions engulfed the vast majority of the world's land surfaces, resulting in a record warm January–May period at 1.85°C (3.33°F) above the 20th century average of 6.0°C (42.8°F), besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.45°C (0.81°F). Record warmth during the first five months was present across Alaska, northwestern Canada, central and southern Africa, southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and across parts of Central America, the Caribbean, northern and central Asia and Australia. According to NCEI's Global Regional analysis, all six continents had at least a top five warm January–May period, with North America, South America, and Oceania experiencing a record high average temperature for January–May since continental records began in 1910. No land areas experienced cooler-than-average conditions during January–May 2016.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • New Zealand's January–May 2016 average temperature tied with 1938 as the warmest such period on record.

The average global sea surface temperature for the year-to-date was the highest for January–May in the 137-year period of record, at 0.80°C (1.44°F) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.16°C (0.29°F). Record warm sea surface temperature during January–May 2016 was present across much of the Indian Ocean and Southwest Pacific Ocean, with scattered areas across the Atlantic Ocean and the tropical Pacific Ocean.

January–May Anomaly Rank
(out of 137 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.85 ± 0.16 +3.33 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.85 +3.33
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1893 -1.00 -1.80
Ocean +0.80 ± 0.16 +1.44 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.80 +1.44
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Land and Ocean +1.08 ± 0.16 +1.94 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.08 +1.94
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Northern Hemisphere
Land +2.07 ± 0.18 +3.73 ± 0.32 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +2.07 +3.73
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1893 -1.17 -2.11
Ocean +0.84 ± 0.16 +1.51 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.84 +1.51
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.47 -0.85
Land and Ocean +1.31 ± 0.17 +2.36 ± 0.31 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.31 +2.36
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1893 -0.69 -1.24
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.28 ± 0.16 +2.30 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +1.28 +2.30
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1917 -0.81 -1.46
Ocean +0.78 ± 0.17 +1.40 ± 0.31 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.78 +1.40
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.52 -0.94
Land and Ocean +0.85 ± 0.16 +1.53 ± 0.29 Warmest 1ˢᵗ 2016 +0.85 +1.53
Coolest 137ᵗʰ 1911 -0.53 -0.95

The most current data can be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Precipitation

May

The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left, using a base period of 1961–1990) and precipitation percentiles (right, using the period of record) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during May 2016 varied significantly around the world. May precipitation generally was drier than normal across parts of eastern Brazil, northern and southern Argentina, the southwest and southeast contiguous U.S., northern Europe, and scattered across parts of Asia. Wetter than normal conditions were present across much of the central and eastern United States, central Argentina, southern Europe, India, and parts of Australia.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Precipitation totals across the Island of Fiji were below to much below average. According to Fiji's Meteorological Service, 17 out of 26 stations recorded less than half their normal monthly precipitation total during May 2016, with the most notable deficits across the Northern Division. Several locations (Labasa Airport, Udu Point, and Matei Airfield) set new low rainfall totals for May. Of note, Labasa Airport observed no precipitation during May 2016, surpassing the previous record of 6.6 mm (0.26 inch) set in 1969.
  • May marks the beginning of Australia's dry season. However, May 2016 precipitation totals for the nation were above average. Averaged as a whole, Australia had 57% above average May precipitation—the wettest May since 1983 and the seventh wettest May since national precipitation records began in 1900. Regionally, Tasmania, South Australia, and Northern Territory had a top 10 wet May on record.

Seasonal (March–May)

As is typical, precipitation anomalies during March–May 2016 varied significantly around the world. During March–May 2016, above-average precipitation was observed across much of the central contiguous U.S. and parts of southern South America, parts of Europe and scattered across parts of Asia. Drier-than-average conditions were present across northeastern Brazil, southern Argentina, and parts of Southeast Asia and Europe.

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References

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for May 2016, published online June 2016, retrieved on December 3, 2016 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201605.