May 2014 hottest on Planet Earth since 1880

Average temperatures 0.74C higher than 20C average say US government scientists

(Pic: UN Photos)

(Pic: UN Photos)

By Ed King

Last month was the hottest May recorded since 1880, according to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It reports combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces was 0.74C higher than the 20th century average of 14.8C.

The previous highest May temperatures were in 2010, 2012, 1998 and 2013.

January-May 2014 was the fifth warmest such period since 1880, with a combined average land and ocean surface temperature that was 0.66°C above the 20th century average.

The figures add to growing evidence that 2014 could be the warmest year since records began, driven in part by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

NOAA says there is a 70% chance El Niño conditions will develop in the coming months, and an 80% chance it will appear in the Autumn.

Piers Forster, a climate scientist at Leeds University, told RTCC predictions 2014 would be the hottest yet were rough estimates based on “sound physics”.

“Overall my best estimate of the 2014 annual global surface temperature anomaly is 0.626 +/- 0.05 C above the 1961-1990 average, making it likely to be the hottest year on record after the 0.547 C anomaly in 2010.”

Last month the head of the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned time is running out to address rising levels of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for global warming.

“If we are to preserve our planet for future generations, we need urgent action to curb new emissions of these heat trapping gases,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

According to the WMO, carbon dioxide was responsible for 85% of the increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – between 2002-2012.

Global levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen steadily in the past century, say the WMO, hitting 393.1 parts per million in 2012, 141% of pre-industrial levels.

Last year that figure rose to 400ppm for the first time in recorded history.

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