WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- Just six months into 2015, it's already looking likely that 2015 will break last year's average temperature record.
New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirms May 2015 as the hottest May in history, and temperature trends suggest heat records will continue to tumble as the year progresses.
A recent NOAA report predicted a prolonged El Niño pattern, a phenomenon whereby increasing water temperatures in the Pacific facilitate an ocean-to-atmosphere heat transfer. Scientists at the agency say there is an 85 percent chance that strong El Niño conditions persist through this winter.
That would be good for drought-stricken California, as the El Niño pattern is likely to deliver heavy rains to the West Coast. But it also will likely translate to higher temperatures across the U.S.
As researchers at NOAA and elsewhere are quick to admit, calculating average global temperatures isn't an exact science, though modern techniques are more accurate than ever before. Not everyone had May as the hottest on record. While Japan's weather agency came to the same conclusion as NOAA, NASA's numbers had May as tied for the second hottest on record.
Commenting on the recently published temperature data, NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan told Bloomberg Government reporters that, heat record discrepancies aside, "the atmosphere is very, very clearly warming."