Ag Weather Forum

Warm World Temperatures in May

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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A graphic look at global temperatures for May 2019 features many areas in red -- indicative of global warmth that was the fourth highest on record. (DTN graphic)

Following are some highlights of the NOAA climate report for May 2019. A key feature: Even though U.S. and Canada were cooler, global temperatures were above normal -- ranking number-four in recorded history. Here are the highlights.

The global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average for May 2019 was the fourth highest for the month of May in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The March-May temperature was second highest, and the January-May temperature was the third highest such period on record.

The May temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit (deg F) above the 20th Century average of 58.6 deg F and was the fourth highest for May in the 1880-2019 record. The last five years (2015-2019) are the five warmest Mays on record, with May 2016 the warmest with a global land and ocean temperature at 1.67 deg F above average.

Record-warm May temperature departures from average were present across parts of the southern half of Africa, western Indian Ocean, New Zealand and its surrounding southern ocean, as well as parts of Asia, South America and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas had record-cold May temperatures.

The May globally averaged land surface temperature was 2.09 deg F above the 20th Century average of 52.0 deg F. This value was the eighth highest May land temperature in the 140-year record.

The most notable warm land surface temperature departures from average during May 2019 were present across parts of northern Canada and Antarctica, where temperatures were at least 7.2 deg F above average. The most notable cool temperature departures from average were present across much of the western half of the contiguous U.S., central and southeastern Canada and northern and central Europe. Temperature departures for these locations were 3.6 deg F below average or cooler.

The cooler-than-average conditions across parts of the Northern Hemisphere land contributed to its least-warm May temperature departure from average since 2011. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere land temperature departure from average tied with 2017 as the highest May temperature since records began in 1880.

The Hawaiian region had its warmest May on record. South America and Africa had a May temperature that ranked among the three warmest Mays on record. Meanwhile, Europe and North America had their coolest May temperature since 2004 and 2011, respectively. Also, the Caribbean region had its coolest May since 2009.

The May globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.31 deg F above the 20th Century monthly average of 61.3 deg F, tying with 2015 as the second-highest global ocean temperature for May in the record, behind 2016 (1.44 deg F above normal). The five warmest May global ocean temperatures have occurred since 2014.

The May average Arctic sea ice extent was the second smallest in the 41-year record at 436,000 square miles (8.5%) below the 1981-2010 average, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center using data from NOAA and NASA. The record smallest May Arctic sea ice extent was set in 2016 at 10.3% below average. During May 2019, rapid sea ice loss was observed in the Bering Sea and southern Chukchi Sea. The Bering Sea had near-record low sea ice extent for the fourth consecutive month.

Antarctic sea ice extent during May was 510,000 square miles (13.0%) below the 1981-2010 average. This was the smallest May extent on record. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the below-average sea ice extent in the eastern Weddell Sea and northern Amundsen Sea contributed to the overall record-low May sea ice extent.

According to data from NOAA and analyzed by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent during May was 760,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This was the 10th smallest snow cover extent in the 53-year record. The North American and Eurasian snow cover extents were also below average, both ranking as the eighth smallest on record.

A full look at the May climate report, including graphics on record-low sea ice extent in Antarctica, is available at this link:…

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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6/24/2019 | 10:23 AM CDT
When I was in college in the 70's the talk by professors and MOST ALL OF THE MEDIA ( TIME MAGAGINE, NEWSWEEK, NEW YORK TIMES, L.A. TIMES, etc.) was all about the COMING ICE AGE!!! The general theory was that air pollution and smog was going to bring on the ice age.
6/24/2019 | 7:09 AM CDT
The blame has been put on fossil fuels but all fossil fuels were at one time living breathing plants and animals.
6/23/2019 | 10:16 PM CDT
Yes that record low snow cover managed to close ski resorts and fill the dams 0n the upper Missiouri because excess snow cover. Go figure?
6/23/2019 | 10:04 PM CDT
Amen. Couldn't have said it better myself!
Frank Durbin
6/23/2019 | 7:45 PM CDT
Climate change or global warming as it is presented and interpreted by governments and its officials are erroneous. I know you're just presenting facts and not drawing conclusions. But the people, children especially, are being spoon fed left wing propaganda! Its meant to separate people from their money voluntarily or by force, taxation. Its meant to blame man as the cause but especially the United States and our way of life. Its meant to shame us as to change our ways and revert. To tax us and redistribute the money globally. The earth is suppose to be 5 billion years old give or take a few million. How many years worth of climate records do we have? Maybe a couple hundred at best. I'm suppose to believe this climate change phenomena has just occurred within the last hundred years of the industrial revolution? Sounds pretty suspicious to me! Especially when I can remember my teachers in grade school talking of the coming ice age and what we needed to do to prepare. Man is so vain to think we can stop or change the force of mother nature. But thats not the point. The point is just to corrupt and pollute enough minds to convince its the only way the planet will survive. In turn the government knows best for you. Its just another stepping stone by the left to control more of your life. Better yet your children.