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May 2014: Earth's hottest May in recorded history

Digital writers

Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 10:00 AM - According to a climate report released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, May 2014 was the warmest May on record.

"Four of the five warmest Mays on record have occurred in the past five years," NOAA wrote in its report.

Last month beat out the previous record high for May set in 2010. It also marked the 351st consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th-century average.

Spring, which is March through May, was the second warmest on record globally, behind only 2010.

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"The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2014 was record highest for this month, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F)," the report highlighted. "The global land surface temperature was 1.13°C (2.03°F) above the 20th century average of 11.1°C (52.0°F), the fourth highest for May on record. For the ocean, the May global sea surface temperature was 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average of 16.3°C (61.3°F), making it the record highest for May and tying with June 1998, October 2003, and July 2009 as the highest departure from average for any month on record."

The record heat was fueled by exceptionally warm ocean waters, NOAA says.

"The majority of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with record warmth across eastern Kazakhstan, parts of Indonesia and central and northwestern Australia," the report states. "Scattered sections across every major ocean basin were also record warm."

Scientists believe the higher temperatures are likely a sign of an impending El Nino with heat records expected to keep falling.

"It’s quite clear that the world will continue on the current trend of warmer-than-average years, but it is important to recognize the variability among regions," says Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese. "A warming average temperature for Earth does not necessarily mean that each region will experience above average temperatures, but it is important to recognize the changes occurring on a global scale. Another point to remember is that the warmer average temperature of the world is not indicative to Canada being above normal for all months to come. As we saw with April, we can be below normal here in Canada but the global temperature can still average above normal. We have been in El Nino neutral condition for the last while but forecast models are still trending toward us moving into an El Nino phase later this year."

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Generally, El Nino tends to increase global temperatures, Vettese adds.

"However, El Nino will cause certain regions around the world to be cooler than normal but on average, the world tends to skew above normal for temperatures during El Nino events."

You can read more of NOAA's report for the record warm month of May here.

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