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Climate scientists say 2015 on track to be warmest year on record

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says first half of year was warmest ever and Earth experienced hottest June

A father and his children walk over a dried out fishery near Manila

The Earth experienced its hottest June and the hottest first half of the year since records began, according to scientists.

Off-the-charts heat is “getting to be a monthly thing”, said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. June was the fourth month of 2015 to break a record, she said.

“There is almost no way that 2015 isn’t going to be the warmest on record.”

NOAA calculated that the world’s average temperature in June hit 61.48F (16.33C), breaking the old record set last year by 0.22F (0.12C). Usually temperature records are broken by one or two hundredths of a degree, not nearly a quarter of a degree, Blunden said.

The picture is even more dramatic when the half-year statistics are considered.

The average temperature in the first six months of 2015 was 57.83F (14.35C), beating the old record set in 2010 by one-sixth of a degree. 

The 2010 record was set the last time there was an El Nino weather pattern – a warming of the central Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide. But in 2010, the El Nino petered out. This year, forecasters predict the El Nino will get stronger, not weaker.

“If that happens, it’s just going to go off the charts,” Blunden said.

June was warm nearly all over the world, with exceptional heat in Spain, Austria, parts of Asia, Australia and South America. Southern Pakistan had a June heatwave that killed more than 1,200 people — which, according to an international database, makes it the eighth deadliest in the world since 1900. In May, a heatwave in India claimed more than 2,000 lives and ranked as the fifth deadliest on record.

May and March also broke monthly heat records that go back 136 years. Initially NOAA figured February 2015 was only the second hottest February on record, but new data came in that promoted it to the hottest, Blunden said. Earth has broken monthly heat records 25 times since the year 2000 but hasn’t broken a monthly cold record since 1916.

“This is what anthropogenic global warming looks like, just hotter and hotter,” said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona.

Associated Press

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