Tue. May 30th, 2023

Last year set a rather remarkable record for the warmest temperatures on Earth, when a strong El Niño sparked a steady trend of greenhouse warming to push temperatures well above the previous record. However, our report on the temperature record noted that it was likely short-lived. The El Niño that drove it wouldn’t shut down at the end of the calendar year, and extra time would allow the heat it pushed into the atmosphere to spread further around the globe. As a result, some observers predicted that 2016 would be even hotter.

So far, those predictions appear to be spot on. Over the weekend, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies released its numbers for the month of February, which registered as a surprising 1.35°C above the baseline period (1951-1980). The previous monthly record was 1.14°C; last year the annual record was a paltry 0.84°C.

The chart above shows data from a period that includes all 15 warmest years in the instrumental record. The February reading, on the far right, gives an indication of how radical this warming is.

Prior to last October, GISS data had never gone a full degree C above baseline. February marks the fifth consecutive month it is. There hasn’t been a month below that baseline since 1992. It’s also noteworthy that the baseline period was long after the planet started warming from pre-industrial temperatures, meaning the change compared to the beginning of the last century is even more dramatic.

The warming was most dramatic over the Arctic, Central Asia and central North America, with a huge area more than 10°C above baseline. As always, a few regions had lower temperatures, especially the Kamchatka area.

There’s still much of the year left and it’s not clear how long El Niño will last to heat things up. But so far in 2016, temperatures have dropped at an unprecedented rate.

By akfire1

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