Jul 14, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Last month was the fifth-warmest June on record

Data: NOAA; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

June was the Earth's fifth-warmest such month on record, according to new data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The big picture: Land surface temperatures were the hottest they've been during the month, dating back 142 years of instrument record-keeping, but ocean temperatures didn't rank quite so highly.

Why it matters: Monthly temperature reports may not mean much over the long term, but they add up over time to the trends climate scientists pay the closest attention to as the climate continues to warm due mainly to the burning of fossil fuels.

The intrigue: Despite the cooling influence of a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific Ocean during parts of 2020 and the start of 2021, this year is still on course to be among the top six or seven warmest on record.

  • It's one indication that the natural brakes the climate system possesses, such as La Niña events, no longer work as well as they used to, given the increased influence of ever-higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

What we're watching: Whether a "double-dip" La Niña develops later this year, as some computer models project, may affect whether temperatures rebound more sharply late this year and early in 2022.

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