World Posted Warmest May on Record as Oceans Heat Up

The world had its warmest May in more than a century as the planet’s oceans also set a record for heat, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The globe’s combined land and sea temperature for May was 59.93 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius), or 1.33 degrees warmer than the 20th century average, breaking the mark of 1.3 degrees set in 2010, NOAA said in a monthly climate report today.

“The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for May 2014 was the highest for May since record keeping began in 1880,” the agency said. “The last below-average global temperature for May occurred in 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month occurred in February 1985.”

The oceans contributed the most to the overall temperature, with a record of 62.4 degrees, while the period from January to May was the fifth-warmest start to any year, NOAA said.

In the Arctic, ice covered 4.9 million square miles, 4.6 percent below the 1981-2010 average, or the third-smallest extent for May since record-keeping began in 1979, NOAA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

Antarctic sea ice covered 4.6 million miles, the most for May on record.

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