January 2015 was the second-warmest January on record. That's according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which calculates relative temperatures by comparing measurements from a slew of monitors around the world to the baseline average temperatures of the 20th century. Januarys in the 20th century were, on average, 12 degrees Celsius across land and ocean surfaces. January 2015 was 12.77 degrees Celsius.
February 2015 was the second-warmest February on record. March was the warmest March. April was fourth-warmest April; May, the warmest May. June was the hottest June. July was the hottest July. August was the hottest August.
From January through August, here's how the world's temperatures compared to the averages. A few places, like the North Atlantic near Greenland, saw record-cold temperatures. Far more places saw record heat.
The year 2015, the NOAA announced last week, will almost certainly end up as the hottest year on record -- "almost certainly" meaning that there is a 97 percent chance of that happening.
The NOAA also provides data on global land and ocean surface temperatures relative to the 20th century average, all the way back to 1880. Over time, global temperatures have gotten warmer and warmer and warmer.
In the United States, which has not uniformly seen the same record temperatures as many other places in recent months, the warmest year on record was 2012.
The graph above doesn't, by itself, prove that the world is getting warmer in line with the predicted effects of climate change. But it certainly doesn't do anything to disprove that the world is getting warmer, either. Scientists predict that the presence of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere will trap heat and cause the Earth to get warmer. The Earth, with some regularity, is getting warmer, as the amount of those gases has increased.
On Thursday, the same day that the NOAA released its new data, a group of 11 members of the House Republican caucus advanced a resolution aimed at acknowledging climate change. The primary political debate centers on whether or not humans are responsible and whether it is economically prudent to work to combat the problem. The resolution addresses that latter point somewhat obliquely and mentions the human role in climate change only at the very end. It also seems unlikely to be adopted by the full House.
That despite being introduced in the warmest summer of the warmest year on record. The question at this point seems only to be the extent by which 2015 will pass the previous warmest global year on record.
That year, incidentally, was 2014.