February 2016 obliterated old marks by a wide margin, NOAA says.
By Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press news story
WASHINGTON — Earth got so hot last month that federal scientists 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 manmade 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, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
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.
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.
“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.
It was also the warmest winter – December through February – on record, beating the previous year’s record by more than half a degree (0.29 degrees Celsius).
NASA’s chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt usually discounts the importance of individual record hot months, but said this month was different, calling it “obviously strange.”
This was due to the long-term warming from heat-trapping gases and the powerful El Nino, so these types of records will continue for a few more months, but probably will not be a permanent situation, Schmidt said in an email.