Summer temperatures for the globe’s ocean surface ranked as the warmest on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Climatic Data Center.
Overall, when the Earth’s land areas and oceans are included together, the three-month June-August period measured as the third-warmest summer on record. Global climate records go back to 1880.
Climatologists measure summer from June 1 to Aug. 31. The climate center is a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“During the season, warmer-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the planet’s surface,” the center wrote in an online report. One exception to the warmth was the north-central USA and central Canada, which had an unusually cool summer.
The ocean’s summer temperature was 62.5 degrees, 1 degree above the 20th-century average of 61.5 degrees.
Part of the unusually warm summer is due to a weak El Nino, a natural periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects weather around the world. “If El Nino continues to mature as projected by NOAA, global temperatures are likely to continue to threaten previous record highs,” noted the center’s report.
Additionally, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice covered an average of 2.42 million square miles during August.
This is 18.4% below the 1979-2000 average extent and is consistent with a decline of August sea ice extent since 1979.