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NOAA: May Global Temperature is Warmest on Record; Spring and January-May also Post Record-breaking Temps

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for May, March-May (Northern Hemisphere spring-Southern Hemisphere autumn), and the period January-May, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Worldwide average land surface temperature for May and March-May was the warmest on record while the global ocean surface temperatures for both May and March-May were second warmest on record, behind 1998.

The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is based on records going back to 1880.

Global highlights for May 2010

  • Noaamay2010
    Temperature anomalies May 2010. Source: NOAA. Click to enlarge.
    The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for May was the warmest on record, at 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average of 58.6 °F (14.8 °C).

  • The global land surface temperature for May was 1.87 °F (1.04 °C) above the 20th century average of 52.0 °F (11.1 °C)—the warmest on record.

  • The May worldwide ocean temperature was the second warmest on record, behind 1998. The temperature anomaly was 0.99 °F (0.55 °C) above the 20th century average of 61.3 °F (16.3 °C).

  • Warm temperatures were present over most of the globe’s land areas. The warmest temperature anomalies occurred in eastern North America, eastern Brazil, Eastern Europe, southern Asia, eastern Russia, and equatorial Africa. The Chinese province of Yunnan had its warmest May since 1951. Numerous locations in Ontario, Canada had their warmest May on record.

  • Anomalously cool conditions were present across western North America, northern Argentina, interior Asia, and Western Europe. Germany had its coolest May since 1991 and its 12th coolest May on record.

Global Highlights for March-May 2010

  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the March-May season was 58.0 °F (14.4 °C), which is the warmest such period on record and 1.31 °F (0.73 °C) above the 20th century average of 56.7 °F (13.7 °C).

  • The worldwide land surface temperature for March-May was 2.20 °F (1.22 °C) above the 20th century average of 46.4 °F (8.1 °C)—the warmest on record.

  • The worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.99 °F (0.55 °C) above the 20th century average of 61.0 °F (16.1 °C) and the second warmest March-May on record, behind 1998.

  • Very warm temperatures were present across eastern and northern North America, northern Africa, Eastern Europe, southern Asia, and parts of Australia. Tasmania tied its warmest March-May period on record. The Northeastern US also had its warmest March-May period on record. Conversely, cool temperatures enveloped the western US and eastern Asia.

  • Western Europe was particularly dry for its spring season. For the United Kingdom, it was the driest spring since 1984, and the twelfth driest since the UK record began in 1910.

Other Highlights

  • Arctic sea ice covered an average of 5.06 million square miles (13.1 million square kilometers) during May. This is 3.7% below the 1979-2000 average extent and the ninth-smallest May footprint since records began in 1979. During May 2010, Arctic sea ice melted 50% faster than the average May melting rate, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center.

  • Antarctic sea ice extent in May was 7.3% above the 1979-2000 average, resulting in the fourth largest May extent on record.

  • Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during May 2010 was a record low at 4.3 million square kilometers below the long-term average. North America and Eurasia both had record-low snow extents for the month. Northern Hemisphere March-May snow cover extent was fourth smallest on record, while the North American (including Greenland) snow cover extent for spring (March-May) 2010 was the smallest on record.



This high rate of change cannot keep up. If it did, a climate change shock wave would occur. Might as well be prepared for extreme weather in many places.

richard schumacher

Increased Antarctic sea ice extent is no reason for hope, because it indicates that ice is coming off the continent faster than ever. Deniers should note that "extent" is not the same thing as "volume".


Actually richard I wouldn't be surprized if the "volume" of Antarctic ice was also increasing. One favorite tactic of the deniers is to simplify the science; they home in on one 'fact' or another and proclaim THEY have found the fatal flaw that thousands of scientists, from around the world, after decades of research, have not. Well I have to say the world is not that simple and Antarctica is like a world unto itself: It sits surrounded by ocean at the bottom of the world, isolated by strong sea and air currents. With an average elevation about 7,544ft/2,300 meters above sea level it is the highest continent, putting most of its surface into the colder air of the higher altitudes and that means snow is going to fall there just like it does on mountain tops.

And of course all you need for snow is water vapour in the air to hit a cold front. Antarctica is one BIG cold front and because every 1 degree of higher air temperature in the rest of the world allows the air to hold 4% more water vapour you can easily get more ice in the heart of Antarctica.

Aaron Turpen

Yay! Another weather report from Green Car Congress!

Sanity Chk

ai_vin: You make some excellent points about the antarctic, that would seem to validate the current warming trend.

Aaron: This report is all about climate, not weather.

Rather than face the massive amount of science supporting AGW, deniers just bury their heads deeper into the sand with each new report. Admitting that it is happening would mean they might have to change some aspects of their lifestyles. Inconvenient indeed!

richard schumacher

True! The heaviest snows occur just below freezing temperature, so an increase in the volume/mass of Antarctic ice would be a natural result of increasing temperatures and thus increased snowfall there.


And have you noticed the increase in flood stories in the news in recent years? Same effect.

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