Depending on where you lived, this summer was a scorcher. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the June through August period was the warmest period on Earth since record-keeping began in 1880.

August, in particular, was extremely warm. Last month was the warmest month on record since 1880. Plus, it had the warmest ocean temperatures ever recorded in any month of the year.

What caused the extremely warm summer? NOAA points to unusually warm ocean temperatures. Global average ocean temperatures were more than 1 degree Fahrenheit above average and broke the all-time record that was set just two months ago.

Warm waters dominated much of the Indian Ocean especially to the west of Madagascar, and large swaths of the Pacific Ocean. Check out where the temperatures were warmest in August in the image below.

August tempertures

Portions of the U.S., Europe, Australia and Russia saw below average temperatures for the month of August. I’m not complaining. It was nice having a summer in the southern U.S. with below normal temperatures.

The unusually warm ocean temperatures comes in the absence of a significant El Niño event in the Pacific. One of El Niño’s primary characteristics is an increase in ocean water temperatures.

Significant El Niño’s in the past led to record temperatures in 1998 and 2005.

So, when is another El Niño expected to occur? NOAA predicts a weak to moderate El Niño to develop this fall and winter. We’ll see how much higher temperatures can get in the presence of an El Niño event later this year and next. If the last four months of 2014 are within their top five hottest, 2014 will become the hottest year on record. Right now, 2014 ranks as the third-warmest year according to NOAA.

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