John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Here’s more evidence that this year will be the warmest yet.
There might’ve been a time, back in the mists of prehistory, when the oceans boiled and the ground was hot enough to render bacon. But in the modern era, it’s safe to say we’re living in the warmest period known to humankind, with July 2016 going down as the hottest month globally in 136 years of records.
July's torridness beat out the previous record-holding Julys of 2009, 2011, and 2015 by 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. And now it “appears almost a certainty that 2016 also will be the warmest year on record,” says GISS director Gavin Schmidt.
The record warm July continued a streak of 10 consecutive months dating back to October 2015 that have set new monthly high-temperature records. Compared to previous years, the warmer global temperatures last month were most pronounced in the northern hemisphere, particularly near the Arctic region.
The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations. The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn’t cover enough of the planet.
And this is a prediction of a “99% chance of a new annual record in 2016” shared by GISS’ Schmidt: