Skyrocketing temperatures smash global records


This year is continuing to set records - but they're not exactly ones we want to be proud of.

Global temperatures are continuing to skyrocket, with the first six months of 2016 each setting a new record for the hottest respective month in modern history.

It's also the warmest half-year on record, NASA says - an average of 1.3degC warmer than when records began in the late 19th century.

Skyrocketing temperatures smash global records

(NASA / Goddard Institute for Space Studies)

The temperatures continue a 14-month streak of record highs.

Part of the reason it's been so warm is because of the 'godzilla' El Nino event which has swept the globe, but it's only boosting a continuing warming trend, NASA scientists say.

The warming is more severe in the Arctic.

"It has been a record year so far for global temperatures, but the record high temperatures in the Arctic over the past six months have been even more extreme," says NASA Goddard sea ice scientist Walt Meier said.

"This warmth, as well as unusual weather patterns, have led to the record low sea ice extents so far this year."

Ice in the Arctic hit record lows in the respective months for five out of six months in 2016. In March, the ice was at its second smallest extent in modern history.

Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, Arctic ice has shrunk by 40 percent.

Skyrocketing temperatures smash global records

Chunks of sea ice, melt ponds and open water in the Chukchi Sea (NASA / Goddard / Operation IceBridge)

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman says rising temperatures are a problem the New Zealand Government can't afford to ignore anymore, calling the data "terrifying".

"We're hearing about temperature records being broken month after month and our Government is still sitting on its hands, whistling," he says.

"If we do not start acting immediately, we're all going to be in big trouble."

The lack of efforts by the Government is consistent with climate denial, Dr Norman says, and Prime Minister John Key should've put in place a plan to reduce emissions as soon as he returned from the Paris Climate Conference.

"Instead Key came home saying he had no plans to cut back on the mining of oil, gas and coal here.

"His Government has failed us when it comes to the climate - the latest carbon pollution inventory released earlier this year shows that Key's policies are steadily increasing our emissions."