Beyond Record Hot – “Shocking and Strange”
March 18, 2016
Major media continue to pick up`on our current global temp spike.
Scientists struggling to describe strange new landscape.
Earth got so hot last month that federal scientists struggled to find words, describing temperatures as “astronomical,” ”staggering” and “strange.” They warned that the climate may have moved into a new and hotter neighborhood.
This was not just another of the drumbeat of 10 straight broken monthly global heat records, triggered by a super El Nino and man-made global warming. February 2016 obliterated old marks by such a margin that it was the most above-normal month since meteorologists started keeping track in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The old record was set just last December and the last three months have been the most above-normal months on record, said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden. And it’s not just NOAA. NASA, which uses different statistical techniques, as well as a University of Alabama Huntsville team and the private Remote Sensing System team, which measure using satellites, also said February 2016 had the biggest departure from normal on record.
NOAA said Earth averaged 56.08 degrees (13.38 degrees Celsius) in February, 2.18 degrees (1.21 degrees Celsius) above average, beating the old record for February set in 2015 by nearly six-tenths of a degree (one-third of a degree Celsius). These were figures that had federal scientists grasping for superlatives.
“The departures are what we would consider astronomical,” Blunden said. “It’s on land. It’s in the oceans. It’s in the upper atmosphere. It’s in the lower atmosphere. The Arctic had record low sea ice.”
“Everything everywhere is a record this month, except Antarctica,” Blunden said. “It’s insane.”
In the Arctic, where sea ice reached a record low for February, land temperatures averaged 8 degrees above normal (4.5 degrees Celsius), Blunden said. That’s after January, when Arctic land temperatures were 10.4 degrees above normal (5.8 degrees Celsius).
Worldwide, February 2016 was warmer than about 125 of the last 136 Marches.
Global temperatures leapt in February, lifting warming from pre-industrial levels to beyond 1.5 degrees, and stoking concerns about a “climate emergency”According to NASA analysis, average temperatures last month were 1.35 degrees above the norm for the 1951-1980 period.
They smashed the previous biggest departure from the average – set only in the previous month – by 0.21 degrees.
“This is really quite stunning … it’s completely unprecedented,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University of NSW, noting the NASA data as reported by the Wunderground blog.
The blog’s authors, Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, described February’s spike as “a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases”.
The monster El Nino event had contributed to the current record run of global temperatures by increasing the area of abnormally warm water in the central and eastern Pacific.
Compared with the rival record giant El Nino of 1997-98, global temperatures are running about 0.5 degrees hotter.
“That shows how much much global warming we have had since then,” Professor Rahmstorf said.
The first half of March is at least as warm, he added, and it means temperatures “are clearly more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels”.
“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Professor Rahmstorf said, noting that global carbon dioxide levels last year rose by a record rate of more than 3 parts per million.
“Governments have promised to act [to curb greenhouse gas emissions] and they need to do better than what they promised in Paris” at the global climate summit last December, he said.
Australia has not dodged the heat, either, with record national temperatures falling at the start of March, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a special climate statement.
The heat surge also comes as the future of climate science hangs in the balance in Australia , with the CSIRO planning to slash monitoring and modelling research.
The most northerly latitudes of the planet were the most abnormally hot regions in February, with large areas reporting temperatures 12 degrees or warmer than average, the NASA data shows.