The heat goes on | WWF

The heat goes on

Posted on 19 March 2016    
The spike in February temperature — a whopping 2.18 degrees above average — was "unprecedented," said Michael Mann, a Penn State meteorologist, in an e-mail to USA TODAY.
© Andres Rosales
For the 10th straight month, global temperatures again smashed records in February 2016, according to data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Not only was February the warmest February on record, it also set a new record as the most unusually warm month ever recorded.

The spike in February temperature — a whopping 2.18 degrees above average — was "unprecedented," said Michael Mann, a Penn State meteorologist, in an e-mail to USA TODAY. He said that at least briefly, we have now already crossed a 'dangerous' level of warmth, in comparison to global temperatures before the industrial era, which began in the mid-1800s.

World Wildlife Fund vice president Lou Leonard said that “only two months after world governments agreed in Paris to limit planetary warming to no more than 1.5 C (above pre-industrial temperature levels), monthly average temperatures crossed that threshold for the first time in February. Now in March, another disturbing record falls."

The planet also saw its warmest meteorological winter — December to February — on record, topping last year's record by over half a degree F, NOAA reported.

NOAA's data jibes with global temperature data from NASA released earlier this week.

While the warming effects of the natural El Niño pattern played a role, about half of the warmth was due to man-made climate change, said Mann.

"At least 50% of it is due to global warming, another 25% perhaps due to the persistent El Niño conditions, and the rest arguably due to the vagaries of month-to-month temperature fluctuations," Mann said.

So the fingerprint of human-caused climate change isn’t just evident here, it’s dominant, he added.

"The march of record-breaking global temperatures over the past decade is an expected result of human-caused climate change, and cannot be explained by natural factors," concluded Mann. 

Since El Niño did play a role, these types of records will continue for a few more months, but probably will not be a permanent situation, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt told the Associated Press.

El Niño is forecast to slowly weaken over the next few months, to be replaced by the cooler-than-normal temperatures of La Niña, the Climate Prediction Center said.
The spike in February temperature — a whopping 2.18 degrees above average — was "unprecedented," said Michael Mann, a Penn State meteorologist, in an e-mail to USA TODAY.
© Andres Rosales Enlarge

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