June 2021 Temperature Update

The following is a summary of global temperature conditions in Berkeley Earth’s analysis of June 2021.

  • June 2021 was the 4th warmest June since records began in 1850.
  • Very warm conditions occurred over parts of North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
  • Due to the effect of the La Niña during early 2021, this year is cooler than other recent years.
  • Based on the first six months, this year is currently positioned to be around the 7th warmest year overall, with only a negligible chance of it being a top 3 warmest year.

Global Summary

Globally, June 2021 has been the fourth warmest June since records began in 1850. This is similar to 2015 and 2016, but appreciably cooler than in 2019 and 2020.

The global mean temperature in June 2021 was 0.82 ± 0.05 °C (1.47 ± 0.10 °F) above the 1951 to 1980 average.

This is equivalent to being 1.15 ± 0.08 °C (2.07 ± 0.15 °F) above the 1850 to 1900 average, which is frequently used as a benchmark for the preindustrial period.

The global mean temperature anomaly in June 2021 was similar to most other months in 2021, except for February 2021, which was appreciably cooler. Temperatures in June are somewhat below the long-term trend line but consistent with natural variability, and in particular the lingering effect of La Niña conditions during the early part of 2021.

Spatial Variation

June 2021 continues the ongoing pattern of wide-spread warmth, though with some notable exceptions. Particularly warm conditions were present in parts of North America, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Unusually cool conditions were present in India and parts of Antarctica, including the South Pole.

We estimate that 3.2% of the Earth’s surface experienced their locally warmest June average, and 73% of the Earth’s surface was significantly warmer when compared to their local average during the period 1951 to 1980. In addition, 0.02% on Earth’s surface had their locally coldest June.

The cool area in the Eastern Pacific, which was first observed in June 2020, has now disappeared and El Niño/La Niña conditions are in a neutral state. This previous La Niña state has contributed to the relatively cool global averages thus far during 2021.

Over land regions, 2021 was the 2nd warmest June, coming in as 1.14 ± 0.12 °C (2.05 ± 0.29 °F) above the 1951 to 1980 average, behind only June 2020.

In addition, this was the warmest June average for both North America and Africa, as well as the warmest June averaged across all land areas in the Northern Hemisphere.

June 2021 was the 8th warmest June in the oceans, recorded as 0.60 ± 0.04 °C (1.07 ± 0.07 °F) above the 1951 to 1980 average.

June Heatwave in North America

In addition to setting a new monthly average records in North America and the United States, June was also remarkable for the extraordinary heatwave the impacted the northwest United States and the southwest of Canada. This included setting a record high daily average for any location in Canada and provoking large wildfires.

The magnitude by which all-time temperature records were broken was highly unusual, with an example shown here for Lytton, British Columbia, Canada.

The magnitude of the heatwave, ultimately reaching more than 20 °C (36 °F), was unprecedented for June in North America. Making this the most extreme summer heat wave – in magnitude of the warmth above normal – ever observed in North America.

As discussed in a recent report by the scientific group World Weather Attribution, this event was essentially impossible without the effects of global warming. Even in the presence of global warming, it greatly exceeded the bounds of what had been considered historically possible and suggests that the dynamical processes at work may be either highly unusual or qualitatively different from historical patterns.

This Pacific Northwest heat wave was also discussed in a previous post.

2021 January to June Summary

After 6 months, the Earth in 2021 has been marked by above average temperatures in most areas, with the notable exceptions on the tropical Eastern Pacific and parts of Northern Asia and Antarctica. Northeastern North America and mid-latitude Asia have experienced some of the most pronounced warmth on land, while ocean temperature records were present in parts of the South and Western Pacific. We estimate that the January to June average has been record warm for 3.9% of the Earth, and appreciably above the 1951 to 1980 average for 78% of the Earth. Only, 5.1% of the Earth’s surface was significantly cooler than the 1951 to 1980 average during the current January to June period. None of the Earth’s surface was record cold in the January to June average.

Looking at regions where January to June temperature averages were either the top 5 warmest or the top 5 coldest observed, we note significant regions with record or near-record warmth during the first six months of 2021 and no regions of near-record cold.

El Niño / La Niña

June 2021 showed neutral conditions in the Pacific Ocean. Research groups have a divided opinion on future conditions. However, the CPC/IRI analysis, which we generally favor, has swung towards an increased likelihood that La Niña will return this winter. A return of La Niña conditions would predict continuation of temperatures somewhat lower than average. It would also predict below normal winter precipitation in the Western USA regions already experiencing drought.

Predictions of future sea surface temperatures in the core ENSO region from IRI/CPC.

Rest of 2021

The La Niña event of late 2020 and early 2021 makes it likely that 2021 will be cooler than other recent years, though 2021 is nearly certain to remain within the top ten warmest years overall. Though La Niña has ended, the impact on global mean temperature will likely persist for additional months. The annual average might be expected to warm some during the latter half of 2021 compared to the first half of the year, but the full year is highly unlikely to challenge the previous record warm years.

The statistical approach that we use, looking at conditions in June and prior months, believes that 2021 is most likely to be the 7th warmest year in the instrumental record, with some chance of being the 5th or 6th warmest. It is unlikely that 2021 would be any colder than 7th warmest, which means that it is very likely to still surpass all years prior to 2015. The odds of setting a new record warm year in 2021 are negligible.

Likelihood of final 2021 ranking, based on January 2021:

  • 1st place (<1%)
    • Top 3 overall (<1%)
  • 4th place (5%)
  • 5th place (15%)
  • 6th place (21%)
  • 7th place (61%)
    • Top 7 overall (99%)

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