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“After the hottest May and June ever recorded and with a looming El Niño predicted to cause global temperatures to spike, Karl Mathiesen, with your help, asks are we living through the hottest year since records began?” So asks the Guardian. Will 2014 break global temperature records and beat 2010? That is an interesting question with only half of the year’s data available. However, it has been an interesting 2014 so far. NOAA has made quite a splash about the two very hot months May and June

For May the combined land and sea average global temperature anomaly was 0.74 +/- 0.07 deg C – the hottest ever. Earlier months were somewhat cooler, March-May was the third warmest on record, January – May was the fifth warmest. May saw the warmest northern hemisphere ocean temperature at 0.60 +/- 0.07, the warmest southern hemisphere land temperature at 1.21 =/- 0.23 and second warmest southern hemisphere ocean temperature anomaly at 0.58 +/- 0.04 In the NOAA data June was also the highest record for the month 0.72 +/- 0.09 due to the northern and southern hemisphere ocean. The northern hemisphere land-ocean temperature tied with 2010, 2012 and 1014.

Such data is the stuff of headlines, but they need to be looked at with a wider perspective. One needs to look at NOAA’s graphs for a better view. Pity they don’t put error bars on them!

Global land and ocean temperatures, Fig 1, show June to be a record but not really anything one would not expect from time to time. May is just the same, Fig 2. Click on image to enlarge. So far this year has been statistically identical to previous years, Fig 3.

May Sea Land Noaa

 Fig 1.

June Sea Land Noaa

Fig 2

2014 Sea Land Noaa so far

 Fig 3


As for the other data sets NASA Giss has May as a record (by 0.06 deg C) and June not. January – April were cool. HadCruT4 shows May to be a record, but not statistically significantly so, May 2010 was only 0.004 deg cooler! At the time of writing HadCruT4 June data was not yet available!

The key point to be drawn from the temperature data for the year so far is that despite the record May and June months taken as a whole 2014 has so far lagged behind 2010. In order to be a record there must be a few more record months or an unprecedented general uplift in global temperature for the rest of the year. So it’s been warm recently, broke records, but they will not make 2014 a record year on their own.