It’s hot out there. The first six months baked the Northern Hemisphere to the highest average temperatures on record. This up-North warmth — about 2.5 °F above the long-term average — carried the entire globe to the second warmest half-year recorded since 1998.
And don’t diss this as a pathetic second-place showing. The average temps blended over the planet between January and June were 1.13 °F above average, only .02 °F below the record set for the same period in 1998. Would a two-hundredths of a degree plunge feel like a cooling breeze to you? The sweat drips as fast, and the air conditioners groan.
Blame hot weather over Asian land masses. The records were set despite a somewhat cooler six months over the Earth’s oceans and the Southern Hemisphere, where it was only the fifth warmest half-year on record. (We’ve become so used to seeing new records, we’re reduced to using “only” when it’s fifth out of 127.)
The figures, posted online this week by the National Climate Data Center, come as Arctic sea ice extent remains below average and the United States experiences drought and above average heat — the 18th warmest January-to-June temperatures since the 1880s. Extensive drought continued in some parts of the West and South.
The Far North wasn’t in lockstep with the global trends. Alaska was merely slightly above normal in June, capping a slightly above normal winter that included plenty of cold. See the Alaska Climate Research Center for details.
Arctic sea ice extent remained far below average for June, but remained above the record minimums seen in the last two Junes. The key moment to gauge sea ice arrives in early fall.