The Home Planet Experiences its Warmest May on Record

By Tom Yulsman | June 17, 2014 8:19 pm

And with El Niño coming, this may be just the beginning…

warmest May

The departure from average temperatures during May, 2014. (Source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.)

If you live in the central United States it may not have felt this way, but for the Earth overall, last month likely was the warmest May on record.

The average global temperature for May was 1.38 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average, according to NASA. Of course, none of us experiences the global average, ever. What we feel is particular to where we’re at.

So if you happen to have spent most of May in Texas, you would have experienced a cooler than average May. But have a look at the map above. It charts how temperatures during the month departed from normal. So, to offer one example, if you happen to have spent most of May in Alaska, well, the map should give a good sense of what you experienced…

I should mention one big caveat before I go any further: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has not yet come out with its own analysis of May’s climate. It should do that some time this week. It’s possible that their ranking will be slightly different, since they use a different method. But I’m guessing their assessment will not vary much, if at all, from NASA’s. We’ll see.

In the meantime, consider that yesterday, the Japan Meteorological Agency announced that March, April and May comprised he warmest spring in a record that stretches back to 1891.

What might we expect going forward? An El Niño seems to be developing. Should it come to full fruition, it is likely to boost global average temperatures even further.

Things are looking curiouser and curiouser.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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