June 2017 was the third-hottest month of June on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), putting 2017 on track to be the second hottest year on record. On the surface, this sounds like good news, but this means that 2017 will still be hotter than the years before 2014-2016’s record-breaking El Niño, an event that pushed 2016 into being the current temperature record holder.
June 2017’s average land and ocean surface temperature was 0.82ºC (1.48ºF) above the 20th century average of 15.5ºC (59.9ºF); the current record-holders are June 2016 (+0.92ºC / +1.66ºF) and June 2015 (+0.89ºC / +1.60F). Last month also marked the 41st consecutive June, and 390th consecutive month that temperatures were nominally above the 20th century average.
"Personally, I wasn’t expecting it to be as warm as it has been," exclaims Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a climate scientist with NOAA. "After the decline of the strong El Niño I was expecting the values to drop a bit and rank among the top five warmest years. This year has been extremely remarkable."
It’s entirely possible that if the previous El Niño hadn’t occurred, 2016 might have seen slightly milder temperatures, making room for this year to become the record holder. As for the latter part of 2017, forecasters still haven’t ruled out another El Niño, an event that might very well make this year the hottest yet.