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It's Already Looking Like 2016 Will Be the Hottest Year on Record

April was the seventh straight month that a global temperature record was broken — and there hasn't been a cooler-than-average year since 1975.
Image via NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

How long can the hot streak last?

Global average temperatures set a seventh straight monthly record in April, and it wasn't even close, according to NASA figures. Last month's average temperatures over land and sea were more than 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) over the 1951-1980 average. It's also a quarter of a degree C beyond the previous April mark, according to data the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released over the weekend.


Every month since October notched a new high, and the string of new records in the early part of the year makes it a near-certainty that 2016 will go in the books as the hottest year on record, GISS director Gavin Schmidt noted — the third straight year new global highs have been set.

With Apr update, 2016 still > 99% likely to be a new record (assuming historical ytd/ann patterns valid). — Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin)May 14, 2016

The newly-inked Paris climate agreement hopes to hold warming to 2 C (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times by 2100. But April also marked the seventh straight month that NASA figures showed temperatures higher than 1 C above its baseline average.

US temperature records date back to 1880. Scientists say the lingering Pacific warming trend known as El Niño built on human-fueled global warming to turbocharge temperatures in the past year. But NASA hasn't recorded a cooler-than-average year since 1975.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the other US science agency that tracks global temperatures, hasn't reported April numbers yet. But NOAA's monthly average for March saw the highest upward spike on record, breaking a record that had lasted since … February.

Related: Here's What Climate Change Has Done to the Season Formerly Known as Winter

Follow Matt Smith on Twitter: @mattsmithatl