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Another hotter-than-normal summer lies ahead for the U.S., forecasters say

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It's shaping up to be another hot and stormy summer in the United States. That's according to federal forecasters. Rebecca Hersher from NPR's climate desk has more.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Last summer was the hottest on record in many parts of the U.S., and it was by far the hottest year for the planet as a whole. That heat isn't going anywhere, warn forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Karin Gleason helps lead NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. She says the record-breaking heat has gone on for almost a year.

KARIN GLEASON: We are at record levels for 11 consecutive months now - so since last June through April - and we're still counting, of course.

HERSHER: Gleason says the coming months are likely to break records globally as well. The majority of the U.S. is forecast to have above-average heat this summer, and it's already been so hot this year that 2024 will definitely be one of the five hottest years on record, going back to 1850. Derek Manzello is with NOAA's coral reef watch program.

DEREK MANZELLO: This wouldn't be happening without climate change.

HERSHER: Humans have trapped a lot of extra heat on Earth by burning fossil fuels, and most of that heat is being absorbed by the oceans, Manzello says.

MANZELLO: The entirety of the world's oceans are so anomalously hot right now, right? The Atlantic Ocean has just been, you know, literally off the charts.

HERSHER: That's bad news for the U.S. Super warm water in the Atlantic is fuel for hurricanes. This summer is shaping up to be a very active hurricane season, forecasters warn. Another reason that oceans are so warm right now, in addition to climate change, is the cyclic phenomenon El Nino. El Nino is ending right now, so that could bring some relief, but it will take a while, says Gleason.

GLEASON: Oceans take longer to cool compared to land. And so when the global temperature streaks end, the record oceans tend to lag a few months as well. So I wouldn't anticipate, you know, a whole lot of cooling in the next several months.

HERSHER: Which all adds up to a very hot, stormy summer for people in the U.S. and around the world.

Rebecca Hersher, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF JONAS BROTHERS SONG, "SUMMER BABY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.