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Assessing the Global Climate in May 2024

The end of last month marked an entire year of record-setting global temperatures.

 A canyon rock formation in shade


  • Temperatures were above average over much of the globe, while western North America, southern South America, and western Russia were cooler than average. 
  • Sea surface temperatures were record warm for the 14th consecutive month. 
  • Global tropical cyclone activity was above average, with five named storms. 

Map of the globe depicting Selected Significant Climate Anomalies and Events for May 2024.

Map of the globe depicting Land and Ocean Temperature Departure from Average for May 2024.
Surface Temperature Departure from the 1991–2020 Average for May 2024 (°C). 
Red indicates warmer than average and blue indicates colder than average.

The May global surface temperature was 2.12°F (1.18°C) above the 20th-century average of 58.6°F (14.8°C), making it the warmest May on record and the 12th consecutive month of record-high global temperatures. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Outlook, there is a 50% chance that 2024 will rank as the warmest year on record and a 100% chance that it will rank in the top five.

May temperatures were above average across most of the global land surface except for western North America, Greenland, southern South America, western Russia, and parts of eastern Antarctica. Africa had its warmest May on record. Sea surface temperatures were above average over most areas (and record warm over the tropical Atlantic Ocean), while parts of the Southern, southeastern Pacific and southern Indian Oceans were below average. The global oceans have been record warm since April 2023.

Temperatures in the mid-troposphere (approximately 2–6 miles above the Earth’s surface) were record warm in May, according to satellite data from NESDIS. Each of the past 11 months set global records for the mid-troposphere.

The year-to-date (January–May) global surface temperature was 2.38°F (1.32°C) above the 20th-century average, making it the warmest such period on record. South America, Europe, and Africa each had their warmest year-to-date period, whereas North America was second warmest. 

Map of the globe depicting Land and Ocean Temperature Percentiles for May 2024.

Snow Cover

Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent in May was the 14th smallest on record. Both Eurasia and North America were below average (by 50,000 and 360,000 square miles, respectively). In general, much of Canada and eastern Russia were below average whereas parts of northwestern Russia were above average.

Sea Ice

Global sea ice extent was the seventh smallest in the 46-year record at 8.51 million square miles, which was 460,000 square miles below the 1991–2020 average. Arctic sea ice extent was below average (by 60,000 square miles), and Antarctic sea ice extent was also below average (by 390,000 square miles).
Maps depicting global sea ice extent for May 2024.

Tropical Cyclones

Five named storms occurred across the globe in May, which was above the 1991–2020 average of four. Two of these reached tropical cyclone strength: Tropical Cyclone Hidaya in the South Indian Ocean, which brought gusty winds and rain to coastal Tanzania, and Typhoon Ewiniar, which caused flooding and wind impacts in the Philippines and Japan. 

For a more complete summary of climate conditions and events, see our May 2024 Global Climate Report or explore our Climate at a Glance Global Time Series.