LAST month was the hottest June on record by a wide margin, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency, increasing the likelihood that 2015 will also be the warmest year.
Global surface temperatures were 0.41 degrees above the 1981-2010 average in June, the largest such anomaly in records going back to 1891, according to preliminary data from the state agency.
The previous warmest June came just last year, when the departure from the long-run average was 0.33 degrees, indicating a sizeable jump in 2015.
Worldwide temperatures are on a warming trend as increased greenhouse gas levels trap more of the solar radiation. A global summit in Paris set for late this year will seek to limit that warming – and the potential for dangerous climate change – to less than two degrees compared with pre-industrial times.
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The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last month that May and the first five months of 2015 were the hottest on record.
Along with the background warming, the El Nino in the Pacific is giving temperatures an extra kick higher. A near-El Nino in 2014 helped make that year the hottest on record and a full-blown event this year suggests that 2015 will set a new record for global surface temperatures.
El Ninos typically lift global temperatures by 0.1-0.2 degrees as circulation changes in the Pacific mean the ocean takes up less of the heat from the atmosphere and can even give some of it back.