Earth dialed the heat up in June, smashing warm temperature records for both the month and the first half of the year. Off-the-charts heat is "getting to be a monthly thing," says Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "This is the third month this year that we've broken the monthly record. There is almost no way that 2015 isn't going to be the warmest on record." NOAA calculated that the world's average temperature in June hit 61.48 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the old record set last year by 0.22 degrees. Usually temperature records are broken by one or two one-hundredths of a degree, not nearly a quarter of a degree, Blunden says.
And the picture is even more dramatic when the entire year is considered. The first six months of 2015 were one-sixth of a degree warmer than the old record, set in 2010, averaging 57.83 degrees. The old record for the first half of the year was set in 2010, the last time there was an El Nino—a warming of the central Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide. But in 2010, the El Nino petered out. This year, forecasters are predicting this El Nino will get stronger, not weaker. "If that happens, it's just going to go off the charts," Blunden says. June was warm nearly all over the world, with exceptional heat in Spain, Austria, parts of Asia, Australia, and South America. Heat waves over the past two months have killed 3,200 people in Southern Pakistan and India. "This is what anthropogenic global warming looks like, just hotter and hotter," a scientist says. (Read more global warming stories.)