The average global temperature in August tied with July as the hottest month since record keeping began in 1880, according to a NASA news release published Monday.
Data released by the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies shows August was the 11th consecutive month to break monthly high-temperature records, measuring 0.16 degrees Celsius (.29 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than August 2014, previously the warmest August on record.
GISS obtains monthly global temperature data from roughly 6,300 meteorological stations and ocean-based instruments around the world as well as research stations in Antarctica.
“Monthly rankings, which vary by only a few hundredths of a degree, are inherently fragile,” GISS Director Gavin Schmidt noted in the release. He further stressed that “long-term trends are most important for understanding the ongoing changings that are affecting our planet.”
Data accumulated by NASA over the past 136 years show the Earth’s temperature has been on an upward trend for the past several decades. The years 2014 and 2015 both broke records for highest annual global temperature and Schmidt predicts there’s more than a 99-percent chance that 2016 will also break that record.
The scientific community at large believes these trends are a result of global warming, the heating of the Earth caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide that trap the sun’s radiation.
“Global surface temperatures are just part of the picture,” said Dawn Stover, who covers climate change as a contributing editor and columnist for the Chicago-based academic journal Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “The oceans are absorbing so much excess heat released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.
“Look at the arctic sea ice that’s reaching a low point every year,” she added. “That’s disappearing enough for ships to go through places that used to be ice-covered.”
The upward temperature trend continues even as other factors that could warm the Earth diminish, according to NASA. El Niño, a weather pattern that results in warmer ocean temperatures, faded away by June 2016.
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