2016 on pace to be the hottest year on record

Story highlights

  • May was the thirtieth consecutive month to have soaring global temperatures
  • Record warm conditions are being felt across the globe

(CNN)The American Southwest isn't the only place feeling the heat.

This past May was the warmest May month in a 137-year period, breaking global temperature records, according to a report published Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
    The new data shows that May was the thirtieth consecutive month to have soaring global temperatures across land and sea surfaces. This is the longest and hottest streak since temperature record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA.
    Right now, 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record.
    Warmer conditions are being felt across areas like Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central America, northern South America, northern Europe, Africa, Oceania, and parts of southern and eastern Asia, according to the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map by NOAA.

    Why is it getting hotter?

    As the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide rises, so does the temperature. Carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million in May at the South Pole — the last place on the planet to hit the milestone, NOAA said.
    But surpassing this milestone is not something to celebrate. Increased carbon dioxide comes partly from burning fossil fuels, which is driving global warming, NASA has previously reported.
    The ongoing heat has hit areas like the Arctic pretty hard, prompting an early onset melting of critical sea ice. The same is happening for Greenland's ice sheet and the increased temperatures are bringing less snow cover for the Northern Hemisphere too.
    This past May, Arctic sea ice coverage dwindled to the lowest level ever seen for the month of May, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Sea ice stretching to about the size of Texas has vanished. This ice coverage is carefully monitored by scientists because it gives insight into the Earth's climate. The decline of this key component is an indicator of global warming, according to NASA.
    "The state of the climate so far this year gives us much cause for alarm," David Carlson, director of the World Climate Research Program, told World Meteorological Organization, an agency of the United Nations, in a statement.
    "Exceptionally high temperatures. Ice melt rates in March and May that we don't normally see until July. Once-in-a-generation rainfall events. The super El Niño is only partly to blame. Abnormal is the new normal," Carlson added.