The world is on course for the hottest year since records began in 1880 after record-breaking temperatures in four of the first six months of the year, according to meteorologists.
The first six months of 2010 brought a string of warmest-ever global temperatures – not only was last month the hottest June ever recorded, it was the fourth consecutive month in which the standing high mark was topped, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The records show that 2010 has surpassed 1998 for the most record-breaking months in a calendar year, reports The Telegraph, Britain.
The January to June period registered the warmest combined global land and ocean surface temperatures since 1880, when reliable temperature readings began, NOAA said.
The combined land and ocean temperature for the first six months of 2010 are 57.5 degrees Fahrenheit (14.2 degrees Celsius), which is 1.2F (0.68C) above the 20th century average for the January to June period.
In June the combined land and ocean temperature was 61.1F (16.2C), which is 1.2F (0.68C) above the 20th century average of 59.9F (15.5C).
Arctic ice cover – another critical yardstick of global warming – had also retreated more than ever before by July 1, putting it on track to shrink beyond its smallest area to date, in 2007.
On the face of it, these numbers would seem to be alarming confirmation of climate models that put Earth on a path towards an environmental catastrophe.
Without steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the global thermometer could rise by 6C (10.8F) compared to pre-industrial levels, making large swathes of the planet unliveable, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned.
June was the 304th consecutive month with a global surface temperature above the 20th century average, the NOAA reported.
The most recent month to dip below that average was February 1985, more than a quarter century ago.