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April marks 12th consecutive month of record warmth for globe

May 18, 2016
Tree with sunlight streaming through its leaves.

The heat goes on — and so do the records.

April 2016 was record warm for the month, rounding out one full year of record-breaking monthly temperatures for the globe. This is the longest such balmy streak in the 137-year record, which dates back to 1880.  

For April, the average global temperature was 1.98 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 56.7 degrees F, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. This temperature departure from average was not only the highest for the month of April in the 1880-2016 record, but also the fourth-highest among all months on record.

The globally averaged sea surface temperature for April was also highest for this month on record and surpassed the same period in 1998 by 0.43 degrees F — the last time a similar strength El Niño occurred. This April we also saw the the smallest Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent recorded in 50 years of snow-cover data collection.

April 2016 land and ocean temperature departure from average with respect to 1981-2010 base period
Map: April 2016 land and ocean temperature departures from average for the globe (in degrees C).

For the four months of 2016 (January–April), the average temperature for the globe was 2.05 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 54.8 degrees F. This was the highest temperature for this period in the record, breaking the previous record set in 2015 by 0.54 degrees F.

The globally averaged sea surface temperature for the year to date also broke a record, exceeding the same JanuaryApril period in 1998 by 0.47 degrees F, the last time a similar strength El Niño occurred.

Find more climate highlights from NOAA’s report and download images by visiting the NCEI website.