May 2014 Was the Hottest May in Recorded History

By:  Eric Holthaus

According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.

Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA’s numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which maintains NASA’s global temperature database, explained the Chinese data glitch: https://twitter.com/ClimateOfGavin/status/479039470365605889/photo/1

Still, the fact that NASA and the JMA used different calculation methods to arrive at similar results is telling. Another agency, NOAA, will release its estimate of May global temperatures next Monday using a third method.

The exceptionally warm month was egged on by a building El Niño in the tropical Pacific. Europe, Central Asia, Russia, Japan, Australia, Southern Africa, Brazil, Eastern Canada, and Western North America (so, basically everywhere) were warmer than normal last month. Besides shifting weather patterns worldwide, that extra El Niño-fueled ocean warmth is supercharging the Earth’s temperature, whichcould help make 2014 the warmest year since human records have been kept, andprobably for much longer. El Niño’s effects should peak between October and December and will likely continue into early 2015.

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