July 2017 has narrowly topped July 2016 as the hottest July on record, according to a shocking analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released Tuesday. As a result, July 2017 is tied with August 2016 as the hottest month on record.
What’s so surprising here is that records for warmest month or year almost invariably occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific.
But whereas 2016 set its temperature records boosted by one of the strongest El Niño’s on record, 2017 is setting records in the absence of any El Niño at all.
“As if it wasn’t shocking enough to see three consecutive record-breaking years, in 2014, 2015, and 2016, for the first time on record,” now we’re seeing these remarkably high temperatures “even in the absence of the El Nino ‘assist’ that the previous record year benefited from,” prominent climatologist Michael Mann wrote in an email to ThinkProgress last month.
NASA charts exactly where it was hot in July compared to the 1951-1980 average (see map below). Note that to show the extreme warming in part of Antarctica, the high end of the temperature legend had to be extended to a whopping 8°C (14.4°F).
When we see all-time global temperature records in the absence of any El Niño, that sends a message the underlying global warming trend is stronger than ever — and that we are running out of time to stop catastrophic impacts.
NOTE: NOAA’s releases its own monthly temperature report in a few days using slightly different data so it is possible they will have a different ranking for July 2017.