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Europe's eyes on Earth declares last month the hottest May on record

Friday, June 5th 2020, 5:00 pm - Siberia and England experienced significant climate extremes in May.

According to Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service, May 2020 was the warmest month of May since they started keeping records in 1981.

Globally, Copernicus recorded an average surface temperature that was 0.63°C warmer than the 1981-2020 average temperature for May. This beats out May 2016, which previously earned Copernicus' title of warmest May on record, by 0.05°C. Partly, May 2016's record was due to the influence of the record super El Niño continuing to drive up temperatures around the globe that year. Now, in 2020, there is neither an El Niño nor a La Niña pattern in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This makes the global heat this year possibly a much more significant concern.

map 1month anomaly Global ea 2t 202005 v02May 2020 global temperature anomalies. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service

As the above map shows, there were some stark contrasts observed in different parts of the globe. In both North America and Europe, there were very large temperature differences between eastern and western parts of the regions.

Notably, for Australia, May 2020 was the first month since October 2016 where their national average temperature was actually cooler than average.

Siberia, on the other hand, was the extreme hot spot on the planet. According to Copernicus, temperatures across the region averaged out at 10°C hotter than normal for the month of May!


Remarkably, although temperatures across England, Wales and the United Kingdom were only a bit above normal, they experienced their sunniest month on record, going back to 1929. The nation saw over 265 hours of sunshine in May, an increase of 43 per cent above normal.

UK-Sunshine+Precip-May2020-metofficegovukSunshine and rainfall records for May 2020 reveal how sunny and dry the month was across the UK, and especially in England. Credit: UK Met Office

According to the UK Met Office, England and Wales both receiving just 17 per cent of their average May rainfall. That makes May 2020 the driest month of May on record for England, and the second driest May for Wales. For all of the UK, less than half the typical May rainfall fell last month.

"The principal reason for the dry and sunny weather is the extended period of high pressure which has been centred over or close to the UK," Dr. Mark McCarthy, the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said in a Met Office report. "This has suppressed the development of clouds and rainfall over the UK, while allowing plenty of sunshine to reach the surface."

Sources: Copernicus | UK Met Office


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