May 2015 Climate Digest



Each month, we will provide information regarding the previous month’s climate. May 2015 was the warmest May since records began, with the combined average global land and ocean temperature at 1.57° Fahrenheit, or 0.87°Celsius, above the 20th century average.

Highlights Dataset

Dataset: 20150621 EarthNow: May 2015 Highlights

Dataset: 20150621 EarthNow: AUDIO May 2015 Highlights


This dataset shows some of the major May weather and climate highlights from the National Climatic Data Center’s (NCDC) monthly global climate analysis, and serves as an overview of what can be discussed in the datasets that follow. Highlights are noted below.


  • Australia: Much of the country experienced below normal temperatures and precipitation.
  • India: A deadly heat wave from May 21st to 31st saw temperatures reaching up to 113° Fahrenheit (45°C).
  • Europe: Below average temperatures throughout the region.
  • Spain: second warmest May on record with temperatures averaging 4.3° Fahrenheit (2.4°C) above normal.
  • Argentina: Warmer than average conditions across much of the country. Some locations recorded their warmest April since records began more than a half a century ago.
  • United States: Nationally, temperatures were 0.6° Fahrenheit above normal. Contributing to this was the New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island with observed record warmth. The May precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 4.36 inches, 1.45 inches above average. This was the wettest May on record and the all-time wettest month in 121-years of record keeping.
  • Alaska: Observed its warmest May in its 91-year period of record.

Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies Dataset

Dataset: 20150621 EarthNow: May 2015 SST Anomaly

Dataset: 20150621 EarthNow: AUDIO May 2015 SST Anomaly



  • The real-time sea surface temperature anomaly dataset is a great way to visualize the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • The global sea surface temperature for May 2015 was the highest on record and 1.3° Fahrenheit (0.72° C) above the 20th century average.
  • According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, moderate El Niño conditions were present during May 2015. There is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño conditions will continue through the Northern Hemisphere fall, and an 85 percent chance it will last through winter.
  • Remember blues indicate cooler than average temperatures and reds indicate warmer than average temperatures (white: average).

Snow and Ice Cover Dataset

Dataset: 20150621 EarthNow: May 2015 Snow and Ice Cover

Dataset: 20150621 EarthNow: AUDIO May 2015 Snow and Ice Cover



  • Aside from helping to illustrate seasonal changes, the real-time Snow and Ice Cover dataset is a great way to convey sea ice change through time, including discussing how the current sea ice extent compares to other noteworthy years.
  • The Arctic sea ice extent for May 2015 was 5.5% below the 1981-2010 average, making it the third smallest May sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979.
  • In Antarctica, the sea ice extent was 12.1% above the 1981-2010 average, the largest on record for the month of May.



Seasonal Outlooks

Be sure to check out the 3-month seasonal outlooks for July – September.

  • Global Temperature Outlook
  • Global Precipitation Outlook
  • U.S. Drought Outlook
Where do I find the datasets?
      • First, check your SOS system to make sure it’s not already in the EarthNow category.
      • In addition to the normal files, there is now a “digest” section. This section in the file structure has all of the normal files compiled into one video.
      • If not, you can download the datasets and playlist files from this FTP Site.
      • Then download and use playlist files at the top of the page (or create your own) and make sure they are in /home/sos/sosrc or /home/sosdemo/sosrc.
      • More detailed information here
Helpful Resources for More Information
EarthNow Team
NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for August 2014, published online September 2014, retrieved on September 29, 2014 from


Category: Climate Digest


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