Published On: Wed, Mar 16th, 2016

February smashes global temperature records by unprecedented amount

high-temperaturesFLORIDA - Hot on the heels of record-breaking temperatures in January, global temperatures in February smashed previous monthly records by an unprecedented amount, according to NASA data, sparking warnings of a climate emergency.

February was the third consecutive month to break the record, which is calculated by setting the temperature for a particular month against the average temperature from that month between 1951 and 1980.

Last month was 2.43F (1.35C) above the norm, easily surpassing the 2.3F (1.14C) margin from January of this year, which also set a record.

The margin was considerably wider in the Northern hemisphere (2.76C) and the Arctic, the latter of which clocked a massive 5.36C increase.

The result was “a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases,” according to Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, writing in a blog on the Weather Underground, which analysed the recently released data.

It confirms preliminary analysis from earlier in March, indicating the record-breaking temperatures.

Although the temperatures have been spurred on by a very large El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, values smashed records set during the last large El Nino from 1998, which was at least as strong as the current one.

Monthly global temperature findings date back to 1880, but never before have three consecutive months so far outpaced historical averages.

Illustrating the significance of the February hike, Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who directs the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, wrote on Twitter that he rarely comments on individual findings but felt the need this month because it was a “special” case.

The unprecedented temperatures have led to unprecedented consequences, particularly in the Arctic where sea ice levels this winter have hit record lows.

“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University of New South Wales, told Fairfax Media.

“This is really quite stunning . . . it’s completely unprecedented,” he said.

February did not break the record for the hottest month, since that is only likely to happen during a northern hemisphere summer, when most of the world’s land mass heats up.

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