According to NASA, the Earth Just Set a Stunning New Record

According to NASA, the Earth Just Set a Stunning New Record

The news: After the frigid cold of the polar vortex earlier this year, a warm spring and summer might seem welcome. But new climate data suggests that we should be careful for what we wish for; last month was the hottest May on record — and it's only going to get hotter from here.

According to separate analyses by NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency, the average global temperature in May was the hottest on record. These numbers are not yet definitive and the international climate community is still waiting for figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — but for now, they correlate with a steady rising trend that's been taking place for the past century.


Image Credit: Japanese Meteorological Agency

As you can see in the map below, vast swaths of the world experienced anomalously high temperatures in May:


Image Credit: NASA

As for the U.S., aside from the greater Texas region, every part of the county experienced "above average" or "near average" temperatures in May. Scientists believe that once this summer's temperatures are accounted for, this year might be the hottest on record.


Image Credit: National Climatic Data Center

Why this is worrying: While the U.S. might not have been too affected, there is bad news for the rest of the planet. The long-term consequences of global warming are certainly worrying, but there are short-term effects that can exacerbate the situation even further. The rising temperatures in the Siberian permafrost are especially concerning, given that carbon emissions from the permamelt can push global temperatures even higher.


Image Credit: Japanese Meteorological Agency

And it might only get worse. Scientists are already anticipating a bad El Niño, which has a 65% chance of taking place this summer. Some scientists believe that this year's El Niño might break 2010's global temperature record. Even weak El Niños can boost global temperature and coupled with the ongoing effects of climate change, this year's could easily lead to the hottest temperature in memory.


Image Credit: Quartz

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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