Scientists Report The Planet Was Hotter Than Ever In The First Half Of 2016 : The Two-Way For example, June's average was up 1.62 F. A couple of degrees may not sound like much, but it's persistent warming over decades that alters the atmosphere, the oceans, and most everything else.

Scientists Report The Planet Was Hotter Than Ever In The First Half Of 2016

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NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the first six months of 2016 were the hottest on record around the planet. NPR's Christopher Joyce explains.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Let's look at June. Scientists took temperatures from around the world and got a June average. What they found was a world that was 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the average June in the 20th century. How about January - hottest ever - same with February, March, April and May. Every month in 2016 has been warmer than ever, at least since people have kept records. How much warmer? Overall this year has been almost 2 degrees warmer than what people experienced in the 20th century. Now, you may remember last year broke the record for the hottest year ever globally.

GAVIN SCHMIDT: But 2016 really has blown that out of the water.

JOYCE: NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt has calculated the chance that the rest of this year will continue on its record pace.

SCHMIDT: It indicates that we have roughly a 99 percent chance of a new record in 2016.

JOYCE: Now, a couple of degrees warmer overall may not sound like much. It can change that much day to day. But Schmidt points out that it's persistent warming over decades that alters the atmosphere, the oceans and most everything else. Schmidt says the warming trend has been pretty steady for decades with a few wobbles now and then. Part of the reason this year was so warm was because of El Nino. El Nino is a weather pattern that brings extra warm Pacific water and air eastward.

SCHMIDT: With the El Nino that we had, what we had was an upwiggle (ph) on top of a long-term trend.

JOYCE: The NASA team says El Nino's warming influence will disappear by the end of the year, which should mean 2017 might be a bit cooler. But they point out that the long-term underlying trend over the past several decades and into the foreseeable future is continued warming. Christopher Joyce, NPR News.

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