Scientists are warning of a global climate emergency after the United States space agency NASA reported the earth’s surface temperatures were 1.35 degrees Celsius warmer than average temperatures for the month.
Global temperatures in February smashed previous monthly records by an unprecedented amount, according to NASA data, sparking the warnings of a climate emergency.
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”, wrote Dr Jeff Masters and his co-author Bob Henson in a blog on the Weather Underground, which analysed the just released data.
It confirms preliminary analysis from earlier in March, indicating the record-breaking temperatures.
The global surface temperatures across land and ocean in February were 1.35°C warmer than the average temperature for the month, from the baseline period of 1951-1980.
Although the temperatures have been spurred on by a very large El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, the temperature smashed records set during the last large El Niño from 1998, which was at least as strong as the current one.
The month did not break the record for hottest month, since that is only likely to happen during a northern hemisphere summer, when most of the world’s land mass heats up.
“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Professor 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, 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 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.
Arctic sea ice is already at its smallest extent for this time of year on record.
The relatively warm seas are contributing to a warmer atmosphere, reinforcing the long-term trend.
According to the JMA, the global average surface temperature in February was 0.62 degrees above the 1981-2010 average and 1.04 degrees above the 20th century average, and was the warmest since records began in 1891.
Last month’s anomaly far exceeded the previous largest deviation for the month, set in 1998, which came in at 0.43 degrees.