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Global warming to set heat record for third straight year, NASA scientists warn

As the string of record-breaking global temperatures continues unabated, June 2016 marks the 14th consecutive month of record-breaking heat.

According to two US agencies – Nasa and Noaa – June 2016 was 0.9C hotter than the average for the 20th century, and the hottest June in the record which goes back to 1880. It broke the previous record, set in 2015, by 0.02C.

The 14-month streak of record-breaking temperatures was the longest in the 137-year record. And it has been 40 years since the world saw a June that was below the 20th century average.

The string of record-breaking monthly temperatures began in April 2015, and was pushed along by a powerful El Niño, where a splurge of warm water spreads across the Pacific Ocean.

But the effects of El Niño have receded, and the effects of global warming are clear, said Nasa’s Gavin Schmidt.

“While the El Niño event in the tropical Pacific this winter gave a boost to global temperatures from October onwards, it is the underlying trend which is producing these record numbers,” he said.

Nasa’s Walt Meir said the global temperatures have been exacerbated by extreme temperatures over the Arctic. Warm temperatures there are pushing up the global average, as well a causing record-low amounts of sea ice.

“It has been a record year so far for global temperatures, but the record high temperatures in the Arctic over the past six months have been even more extreme,” Meier said. “This warmth as well as unusual weather patterns have led to the record-low sea ice extents so far this year.”

"2016 has really blown that out of the water," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

Sustained above-average temperatures, as the planet has seen so far this century, can affect the ice sheet, global sea levels, ecosystems and more, according to Schmidt.

One of the very visible effects of the warming climate is the greening of the Arctic. What was once a frozen tundra landscape has practically become a new ecosystem, said Charles Miller, deputy science lead for the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"Because of longer, warmer growing seasons coupled with shorter, less brutally cold winters, we've had a significant change in the vegetation structure … really changing the landscape," Miller said.

Increasing temperatures and a warmer Arctic have global implications, Meier said. The jet stream and weather patterns could shift as the Arctic ice cover continues to diminish, he said.

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