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Copernicus: May 2024, streak of global records for surface air and ocean temperatures continues

May 2024 was warmer worldwide than any other May since records began.

Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF
Global surface air temperature anomalies (°C) from January 1979 to May 2024 shown separately for each calendar month. Anomalies are relative to the average for the 1991–2020 reference period. Source: ERA5. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission with funding from the EU, routinely publishes monthly climate bulletins reporting on the changes observed in global surface air and sea temperatures, sea ice cover and hydrological variables. Additionally, the bulletin also includes highlights regarding the boreal spring (March-April-May). Most of the reported findings are based on the ERA5 reanalysis dataset, using billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world.  

May 2024 – Surface air temperature and sea surface temperature highlights: 

  • May 2024 was warmer globally than any previous May in the data record, with an average ERA5 surface air temperature of 15.91°C, 0.65°C above the 1991-2020 average for May and 0.19°C above the previous high set in May 2020.   
  • This is the twelfth month in a row that is the warmest in the ERA5 data record for the respective month of the year. While unusual, a similar streak of monthly global temperature records happened previously in 2015/2016.  
  • The month was 1.52°C above the estimated May average for 1850-1900, the designated pre-industrial reference period. 
  • The global-average temperature for the past 12 months (June 2023 – May 2024) is the highest on record, at 0.75°C above the 1991-2020 average and 1.63°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.  
  • The average European temperature for May 2024 was 0.88°C above the 1991-2020 average for May, and the third warmest May on record for the continent.  
  • Temperatures were below average over the eastern equatorial Pacific, indicating a developing La Niña, but air temperatures over the ocean remained at an unusually high level over many regions. 
  • The sea surface temperature (SST) averaged for May 2024 over 60°S–60°N was 20.93°C, the highest value on record for the month. 
  • This is the fourteenth month in a row that the SST has been the warmest in the ERA5 data record for the respective month of the year. 

Copernicus 2024

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