Earth’s temperature spiked a record high for May, US meteorologists have reported.


Last month, the global average temperature was 15.7°C, equalling 2016 for the hottest May in 141 years of record keeping, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That is nearly one degree higher than the 20th Century average for Earth.

Temperatures on land set a heat record, while ocean temperatures ranked second.

Parts of Africa, Asia, Western Europe, South and Central America had record warmth.

“We continue to warm on the long term and in any given month we’re likely to be knocking on the door, close to a record in the era that we’re in,” NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt said.

The last seven Mays, from 2014 to 2020, have been the seven warmest Mays on record.

This past spring was the second hottest on record, behind 2016. And this year so far is the second hottest five-month start of a year.

Mr Arndt said it is highly likely that 2020 will be one of the two hottest years since 1880.

Read more about climate change:


Climate change: should we change the terminology?

Could terms like 'climate crisis', ‘climate collapse’ and ‘global meltdown’ do a better job of altering our behaviour?

In May 2019, The Guardian announced that it was changing the language used around environmental issues. The key difference is that it will no longer use the term ‘climate change’, instead referring to the ‘climate crisis’. This followed the UN’s secretary general António Guterres use of the term in a speech in September 2018.

At the same time, The Guardian dropped ‘global warming’ in favour of ‘global heating’ and replaced ‘biodiversity’ with ‘wildlife’, among other changes. The move to ‘global heating’ is supported by Prof Richard Betts, climate scientist at the Met Office, who recommended the change while speaking at the UN climate summit in December 2018.

Then, in November, branding expert Aaron Hall challenged a team of marketers to come up with alternative terms for climate change that would inspire people to take action and change their behaviour. The names they came up with included ‘climate chaos’, ‘global meltdown’, ‘Scorched Earth’, ‘The Great Collapse’ and ‘Earthshattering’.


Alexander McNamaraOnline Editor, BBC Science Focus

Alexander is the former Online Editor at BBC Science Focus.