April the hottest month globally - by biggest margin

A worker using his helmet to shield himself from the sun. Last month was the hottest April in Singapore since 1929, says Meteorological Service Singapore.
A worker using his helmet to shield himself from the sun. Last month was the hottest April in Singapore since 1929, says Meteorological Service Singapore.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

WASHINGTON • Last month was the hottest month on record globally, and it was by the largest margin ever recorded.

It was the seventh month in a row that global temperature records have been broken, and the third straight month that the monthly record has been shattered by the largest margin ever.

Latest figures released by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) over the weekend all but assure that this year will be the hottest on record and probably by the largest margin ever, The Guardian newspaper said yesterday.

The global temperature of land and sea was 1.11 deg C warmer in April than the average temperature for the month during the period from 1951 to 1980, breaking the previous record by 0.24 deg C, set in 2010.

"The interesting thing is the scale at which we are breaking records," Professor Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales in Australia, was quoted as saying. "It's clearly all heading in the wrong direction."

During each of the past seven months, global average surface temperatures have exceeded the 20th century average by more than 1 deg C. Until last October, that 1 deg C threshold had not been crossed since Nasa's global temperature records began in 1880.

Many experts said the current El Nino phenomenon cannot be solely blamed for the continuing spike in temperature because it is not the biggest on record. El Nino is the warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean and the phenomenon usually leads to extreme droughts, storms and floods around the world.

Experts said the latest temperature figures raise doubts about the goals agreed on at the recent Paris climate conference by some 195 countries, which agreed to limit the global temperature rise to "well below" 2 deg C above pre-industrial times by the year 2100, and to pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5 deg C.

"The 1.5 deg C target - it's wishful thinking. I don't know if you'd get 1.5 deg C if you stopped emissions today," said Prof Pitman."It's putting intense pressure on 2 deg C."

Experts have warned of dire consequences if temperatures go past the 2 deg C target, including a sharp increase in sea level due to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, loss of much of West Antarctica, and the mass extinction of climate-sensitive species.

Last month was the hottest April in Singapore since 1929, Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) confirmed.

The mean monthly temperature was 29.4 deg C. It tied with May 1998 as the second-warmest month on record here, behind only March 1998, which had a mean monthly temperature of 29.5 deg C.

The MSS said that collectively, the first four months of this year have been the warmest ever for the corresponding periods since 2010.

The island also had a hot start to this month, with the daily average temperature for the first five days of the month hitting 29.9 deg C. That is 1.6 deg C above the long-term mean for May.

• Additional reporting by Samantha Boh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'April the hottest month globally - by biggest margin'. Print Edition | Subscribe